India duty-free deal ‘game-changer’ for Bangladesh

DHAKA, September 18, 2011 (AFP) – As Abdus Salam Murshedey strolls through his vast garment factory in Dhaka, hundreds of seamstresses stitch shirts for export shipments he says will be boosted by a relaxing of Indian import rules. Murshedey has built his company, Envoy Group, into a multi-million dollar firm with 18,000 employees on the back of orders from major Western high street brands including Zara, Next and French retail giant Carrefour.

But the shirts the women are working on are for top Indian retailer Pantaloon, and since India recently granted immediate duty-free access to 46 Bangladeshi garment types, Murshedey says orders like this are set to rise.

“I’m going to have to recruit thousands of new workers to meet new Indian orders. Already we’ve received lots of queries from Indian retailers,” he said.

For decades, New Delhi imposed quota restrictions on Bangladeshi garments, limiting duty-free exports to 10 million pieces a year. Murshedey, for example, could only accept Indian orders for up to 300,000 items annually.

“Pantaloon is happy with our quality and price. But we could not raise orders because of the quota bar,” he told AFP.

Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest garment produce