How cheap do we expect our clothing to be?


Bangladesh central bank governor Atiur Rahman says it is a "big challenge" to monitor all of Bangladesh's factories

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.

Linda Yueh Article written by Linda Yueh Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    TBH I find the subtext of the title of this piece rather insulting as though it is the fault of the consumers that we aren't more charitable, rather than being a endemic problem of the system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Our pc-obsessed liberals spout all kinds of bluster about poverty & human rights. But they continue to buy cheap tat from Asian sweatshops. It's a disgrace. An ethical UK government would introduce import restrictions on sweatshop goods from China, Bangladesh & elsewhere. But in an era of declining living standards, the cheaper the better. And they ignore the human tragdies in the sweatshops.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It has already been proven that garments can be manufactured in the UK and compete at prices on imports from the Far East. The problem is that we no longer have a native infrastructure with machines and the necessary skills.

    This is an obvious example for the government to follow through on and encourage the development of a domestic industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Perhaps they should concentrate on quality clothing that lasts as there is a wide opening there. I for one would pay more for something that kept me warm in the winter rather than having to put layers on.
    Even M and S has gone down the flimsy road.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Consumers have little choice but to pay the price shown in the shop. So to say that the situation in Bangladesh is the product of the UK consumer is false. People will buy what is available.

    Retailers know that by going to Bangladesh they can get a low price due to cheap labour and with trade preferences can import at zero duty. This allows the retailer to buy cheap and sell with a good profit.


Comments 5 of 8


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