How cheap do we expect our clothing to be?
- 24 June 2013
- From the section Business
After the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry, what is the future for this sector in Bangladesh?
I spoke to the Bangladesh central bank governor Atiur Rahman who says that Rana Plaza was an one-off lapse and that standards are being tightened across the nation with international cooperation.
He says that the country wants foreign consumers and firms to understand that they need to pay more for clothing, so that countries such as Bangladesh can continue to supply them on a more sustainable cost basis.
With 80% of their exports from the garment sector, Bangladesh is committed to building that sustainable industry by moving towards competing internationally on raised standards, rather than low costs.
But, as with any country seeking to industrialise and grow, a lingering question is whether they should diversify their output.
The bigger question is whether they can, which is something that Bangladesh has been confronting since the hugely competitive Chinese garment industry entered the scene over a decade ago.
The question for the rest of us is how much we are willing to pay for a shirt.