Bangladesh’s success in the global apparel value chain following the expiration of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement in 2005 deserves study to understand how a least developed country can become a major source of apparels within a short period of time. This article shows that even under a quasi-hierarchical governance structure, suppliers in Bangladesh have made significant progress in economic upgrading, particularly process and product upgrading. Competitive pressure linked to the ‘open sourcing’ of apparels has caused leading firms to ease conditionalities on the production process. Preferential access to major markets, timely responses to buyers’ changing demands, favourable policies related to the import of raw materials, production and export of apparels and new labour-related policies have facilitated economic upgrading. Suppliers have accordingly benefited from substantial investment in productive capacity, technological know-how and workers’ skills. Further upgrading would require more investment in firm-level productivity and improvement in physical and social compliance.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Additional Research Director, CPD
Farzana Sehrin, Former Research Associate, CPD
Research and Information System for Developing Countries, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka and SAGE Publications
Published in: South Asia Economic Journal 17 (1). P. 73-93
Date of online publishing: 4 February 2016