More Asian shoemakers plan relocation in Bangladesh
Kazi Azizul Islam
After such plants from China and Taiwan have found there new bases here, foreign shoemakers from Vietnam and Cambodia are mulling relocating their plants to Bangladesh’s export processing zones.
According to industry insiders, in the global map of shoe manufacturing Bangladesh has been identified as a most suitable location because of the availability of very cheap labour and the country’s privileged market access to Europe. These factors are definitely alluring to the investors.
‘At least seven foreign shoe manufacturers are now in advanced negotiations with us to relocate their factories to Bangladesh’s export processing zones from Vietnam and Cambodia,’ a top official of the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority told New Age.
The official said most of the investors were seeking industrial plots in the EPZs in Dhaka, Comilla or Chittagong, but the BEPZA authorities were trying to convince them to set up their plants in some remote EPZs like those in Mongla and Iswardi.
If the negotiations end positively, the number of shoe factory owners with whom the BEPZA has signed contracts in the past few months will increase significantly.
In the past four to five months, the BEPZA has made agreements with at least a dozen of investors in shoe industry, most of them Taiwanese and Chinese, on setting up plants in Bangladesh. Their estimated cumulative investment would be to the tune of $300 million.
The investment deals include $52.50-million Genfort Shoes Limited and $50.09-million Xin Chang Shoes – both owned by Taiwanese companies.
‘Bangladesh has become significantly spotted in the global map for shoe manufacturing industry,’ said Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of the Apex Adelchi Footwear Limited, Bangladesh’s largest shoe exporter.
Manzur pointed out that availability of a huge pool of cheap labour in Bangladesh and antidumping duty in European market on shoes made in China or Vietnam motivated the investors to relocate their factories to this country.
The shoe industry whizkids, who is also a leader of the Leather-goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association of Bangladesh, however thinks the government should scrutinise the aspiring investors.
He suggested that the government should ask the investors to pledge to operate their plants here for a long term and make significant local value addition.
Bangladesh’s export earnings from footwear stood at $170 million in the last fiscal year, posting a 25 per cent rise from that in the previous fiscal.
[Maybe] ‘A billion dollar shoe export sector will remain no more a daydream by the next fiscal or so,’ quipped an official of the BEPZA.