Synthetic Fiber Garment

The Synthetic Fiber Garment Could be the Second Revolution in the Readymade Garments Industry

Synthetic fibers can be used to make many kinds of fashionable garments which are not found in cotton fabrics. That is why the demand for synthetic fiber clothing is increasing worldwide. We may miss the train if we do not take the opportunity now. China, Vietnam and India have already reached much of their destination in this endeavour. We need to strengthen and expand the connectivity industry for synthetic fibers. That is why policy support is very much needed from the government.

One hundred percent of the outerwear in the world, including sportswear or raincoats, is now made of synthetic fibers. In all, more than 78% of the world’s clothing is made from synthetic fibers. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corona virus. This type of clothing is as comfortable as it absorbs sweat quickly. Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and China are now 100% artificial fiber dependent. Scientists have done a lot to diversify the production of such yarns. So in terms of quality, there will be a lot of variety in synthetic fiber yarn. On the other hand, since cotton yarn is made in a natural way, there is little chance for scientists to experiment.

What Scientists Say: The trade in artificial silk stopped in 1894. It was possible to do business for only two years. Hilaire de Chardonnet, a French scientist, Engineer and Industrialist and the inventor of synthetic fibers had started an organisation of synthetic fibers, almost 127 years ago, which no longer has its application in our current time. In the domain of garments made of natural cotton, a new domination of huge garments made of man-made fiber or synthetic fibers took over.

Demand for Synthetic Fibers: The garment industry in Bangladesh is 100% dependent on cotton. The lion’s share of our exports are still from cotton yarn. Cotton yarn mills have been established in our country abundantly where three-fourths of the garment industry are cotton. However, the reality of countries like Europe and America is very different. In 2019 alone, synthetic fiber garments worth 19to 20 billion were exported from one country to another worldwide. It is predicted that in 2025, it will increase to 40 trillion dollars. The United States and India-based research institute Grand View Research has provided such information. According to the Switzerland-based International Manufacturers Federation (ITMF), 78 percent of the total garments are synthetic fibers and the remaining 22 percent are cotton fibers.

There are many reasons for the increase in demand for synthetic fiber clothing. Environmental awareness is one of them which is growing among buyers around the world. Cotton production requires a lot of water and land; and in addition, a lot of water is used to dye or smoke or wash the clothes. For this reason, buyers of ready-made garments are inclined towards garments made of synthetic fibers. Another distinctive reason is the rapid change in fashion and there is no parallel of synthetic fibers in making brand new fashions and clothes. Furthermore, it is comfortable, durable, and beautiful and can be easily checked when it requires different tests.

Garment Industry in Bangladesh: The journey of readymade garment industry actually started from 1976. Since 1980, Bangladesh has been directly exporting readymade garments. Today, Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of readymade garments in the world whereas China and Vietnam are first and third respectively. But in the export of synthetic fiber garments,Bangladesh is lagging behind even Vietnam let alone China. At present, Vietnam occupies 10 percent of the world’s market for synthetic fabrics, as such, Bangladesh is exporting merely less than five percent.

However, even though it is late, the entrepreneurs of the readymade garment industry are gradually coming forward to export the garments made of synthetic fibers which will occupy a large market in the future. So the readymade garment industry will get a new dimension. Hopefully big industries will invest gradually in this sector. Big brands and consumer organisations are inclining towards synthetic and recycled fibers to make their businesses last longer. Therefore, Bangladesh’s garment exporters should no longer rely solely on yarn-made garments.
How to Make Yarn from Cotton, Synthetic Fibers:Generally we know that yarn is made from cotton, from which garments are made and exported. Needless to say that there is no cotton production in Bangladesh and the spinning mills of our country completely depend on import.
Like cotton, synthetic fibers too can be made from trees, bamboo or wood. There are two types of synthetic fibers: natural polymers and synthetic polymer fibers. Different types of trees, wood or bamboo i.e. plant fibers are basically considered as natural polymer fibers, among which viscose, tensile and modal are quite popular. And yarn is produced by mixing different amounts of cotton with these fibers. However, since it is a plant, many people do not like to call it synthetic fiber.
On the other hand, synthetic polymer fibers are made from petrochemicals where discarded plastic bottles are mainly used; and among synthetic fibers Polyester and Nylon are more popular. Yarns made from these fibers are used to produce various types of garments including jackets, raincoats, sportswear and underwear. Likewise, various types of fabrics including T-shirts, shirts, pants are made by mixing cotton with synthetic fibers.

Imports of Synthetic Fibers in the Country:The production and export of synthetic fibers in Bangladesh is gradually increasing due to the demand of the world’s best readymade garment importing company but only three or four textile mills in the country are producing synthetic fibers. Most of the spinning mills are producing yarn and cloth by importing polyester, staple fiber, viscose staple fiber and tensile fiber from abroad.

According to BTMA data, 29,146 tons of viscose staple fiber was imported in 2016. Last year, in 2020, it has increased to 53,289 tons, with an import value of Tk.885 crore. In 2016, 78,208 tons of polyester staple fiber were imported, whereas last year was it 96,077 tons. The market value of this amount of polyester staple fiber is Tk. 927 crore.

New Investment in This Sector: Entrepreneurs of the country’s textile industry have come forward in the production of synthetic fibers. Even in the pandemic days COVID19, a number of industries have started investing in the industry of synthetic fibers production. DBL has already announced an investment of Tk 562 crore in the sector, according to media reports.

Importing synthetic fibers, NZ Tex Group made viscose, tensile and modal yarn first and then fabrics with it. The business of this group is growing at a rate of 30 percent every year. At Bhulta in Narayanganj, the company is investingTk100 crore to produce polyester fiber from plastic bottles.Hopefully more companies will invest gradually in the production of these fibers. Traders usually make plans to keep production targets in line with demand. Thus, much more is expected to be invested in this sector in the coming years.

How India Is Progressing:Though we feel happy to see that India lags far behind Bangladesh in garment exports, their traders have taken various initiatives to take up the business of synthetic fiber garments ahead. Not only that, their government is also cooperating a lot in this regard. The country is currently exporting $1.6 billion worth of synthetic fiber garments annually. To strengthen exports of the garment and textile sector, India plans to set up seven large-scale textile parks in three years. Each village will be built on more than one thousand acres of land where world class infrastructure will be built. In addition, India has planned an incentive scheme of Rs 10,683 crore for technological development in the textile sector and production of synthetic fibers. The information was presented by Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the announcement of the 2021-22 budget in February.

What We Have to Do: BTMA and BGMEA are trying to make various preparations for new investment in the production of synthetic fibers in the country. BGME had sought 10 per cent cash assistance in the last budget to capture the market for synthetic fibers of readymade garments. But the government did not get a chance to think deeply about the issue. The BGME was of the opinion that this cooperation would enable the garment industry to export an additional $200 million worth of garments.

Entrepreneurs in our country must re-invest in the production of synthetic or recycled fibers, yarns and fabrics due to the obligation of Leo-time. In order to set up such an industry, at least Tk. 1,500 to 1,600 crore is required. Therefore, entrepreneurs need to be provided low interest loans and technical assistance. In addition, it is necessary to create opportunities for foreign investors to come forward with special investments in this sector.

Currently, about 60 textile mills in the country are producing various types of synthetic fibers, yarns and fabrics including polyester, viscose, tensile and modal. In 2016, the number of the textile mills was only 50, so, it has increased several times in the last few years.

Chinese industrialists can be made interested in investing in this sector, because, the country has to import $600 to 700 crore worth of oven cloth every year. If the oven cloth production is declared tax free, definitely will it usher foreign investment in the country and our contribution to the export of synthetic fiber garments will be consolidated.On the other hand, in the sale of synthetic yarn in the local market incurs Tk. six for VAT and five percent on clothes which should be revoked. Consequently this will increase investment in this sector.

Since this yarn is made from plastic bottles, the country needs thousands of KGs of plastic bottles which are not available within, therefore, it is necessary to facilitate the import of duty free plastic bottles from abroad. As such, Government policy and cooperation is badly needed in this regard and VAT and taxes need to be completely withdrawn from the sector. Then only we can expect that investors will be encouraged to make new investments in this sector.

The present government is creating 100 special export zones while, out of these, few of them already have started exporting. So, we suggest that a special export zone should be set aside for domestic and foreign investors only to manufacture synthetic fibers which will include various facilities and where domestic and foreign investors will set up industries. Then, the main raw material crisis of the readymade garment industry will no longer exist if synthetic fibers are produced in the country.As such there will be no obstacles for foreign export order and ultimately the country can get huge export orders. In the meantime, it will reduce the “Leadtime”, we can export the readymade garments according to the demand of importers. Other than these, it will create a lot of employment too, increasing the foreign revenues.

In the year 2020-21, the export of readymade garments has been only $2,856 crore. Easily we can double this export moneyif we can export garments made of synthetic fibers. Apart from this, if India, China and Vietnam can occupy this market and get hold of it, we will fall into the hollow. We may lose our aspiration of the bright light that opens new doors of possibility. Therefore, the government must come forward extending its cooperation policy.

Finally, for the development of this sector, it is necessary to set up an institute nationally with initiatives both from public and private sectors for design, fashion and technological advancement where India, China and Vietnam are already ahead; and we could not have taken the initiative yet to set up such an institute. All business organizations including BGMEA, BTMA, BKMEA need to come forward fast to set up research and fashion institutes for the sake of export growth. In the ledger book of our achievements of 50 years of independence, let us start planning and implementing to achieve a strong position in the field of “synthetic fiber production” and readymade garment exports.

Abul Quasem Haider
আবুল কাসেম হায়দার

সাবেক সহ সভাপতি এফবিসিসিআই, বিটিএমইএ, বিজিএমইএ , বেসরকারি বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় সমিতি, প্রতিষ্ঠতা চেয়ারম্যান ইস্টার্ন ইউনির্ভাসিটি ও ইসলামিক ফাইন্যান্স এন্ড ইনভেস্টমেন্ট লি:, অষ্ট্রেলিয়ান ইন্টারন্যাশনাল স্কুল, আবুল কাসেম হায়দার মহিলা কলেজ সন্দ্বীপ, চট্টগ্রাম, সাবেক সিনেট সদস্য ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়।

তিনি আজীবন সদস্য : এশিয়াটিক সোসাইটী বাংলাদেশ, বাংলা একাডেমী, চট্টগ্রাম সমিতি, সন্দ্বীপ সমিতি ঢাকা ।

লেখক দৈনিক আজকের আওয়াজ ও সাপ্তাহিক প্যানোরামা সম্পাদকের দায়িত্ব পালন করছেন।

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