Speech for Hon’ble Foreign Minister as the Chief Guest at the “Global Cotton Summit Bangladesh 2017”
Date: 27 January 2017, 1000 hrs
Venue: Hotel Radisson Blu Water Garden, Dhaka
Rotarian Muhammad Ayub, President of Bangladesh Cotton Association
Delegates from home and abroad
Ladies and Gentlemen
Assalamu Alaikum, Adab and good morning to you all!
I am delighted to join you all at this inauguration of the ‘Global Cotton Summit Bangladesh 2017. It is encouraging to see that this important event is being attended by a large number of delegates, experts, trade partners and businessmen especially, who are the part of the cotton value chain. My special thanks to Bangladesh Cotton Association, which is hosting this Summit for the second time. I am convinced that this Summit, like the previous one, will foster greater engagement and collaboration among the partners and the participants.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have a glorious history of having the world famous and finest cotton fabric named ‘Maslin’ - once produced in medieval Bengal. Bengali people are used to wear fine and soft clothes due to climate. Cotton, thus, plays an important role in our lives and livelihoods as well as tradition and cultures. It is the very basic component for the production of apparels and readymade garments, on which Bangladesh’s economy has been thriving. If we recognise the ready-made garments industry as the backbone of our economy, then cotton should certainly be considered as the bone-marrow of that backbone. We take pride in this sector, that is not only earning billions of dollars of foreign exchange but also creating jobs for millions. It has been making a huge contribution in empowering our people, particularly women, which has its own political, social and economic dividends.
Bangladesh is in need of constant and voluminous supply of cotton to meet the appetite of its garments and textile industries. Bangladesh is currently ranked as the second largest cotton importer, after China. The demand for cotton is escalating-in extent and rate- as we prepare to fulfill our local needs of RMG and textiles as well as increase the volume of their exports to US$ 50 billion by 2021. Our cotton production is way below to its demand, which may stand in the way of further expanding our garments and textile sectors. Soaring production cost of cotton world-wide against growing use and application of man-made synthetic fibers also serves as a key challenge that needs to be effectively addressed.
Bangladesh is marching strongly towards realizing its ‘Vision2021’-to become a middle-income country by 2021 as envisaged by the daughter of Bangabandhu and our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. To achieve this goal, the government has emphasized on a number of sectors, given their role and contributions to move forward the country’s socio-economic level at an enviable height. Readymade garment and textile industries, by virtue of its impact on our economy and employment, have acquired a unique position in our development strategies. It is, therefore, imperative that these sectors are adequately backed up by backward linkages industries, raw materials and modern technologies.
In order to tackle the foreseeable challenges in the cotton sector of Bangladesh, we must sharpen our focus on the enhanced production of cotton in the country. This will make our products more competitive, not only by saving import cost but also reducing high import dependency on cotton. We should also strengthen networks with major cotton producing countries and diversify supply sources to increase our resilience against any external or global economic shocks. We need to accord due priority on research and innovation, skills development, capacity building and use of modern technologies to produce high yielding quality cotton in Bangladesh. We must also encourage our cotton farmers and growers by ensuring reasonable price for our own cotton. The role of Bangladesh Cotton Association would be critically important in this regard.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Robust entrepreneurship, effective compliance mechanism, productivity improvement and quality assurance are the key drivers for any industry or sector to grow, expand and prosper. This could be achieved through strong bond of friendship and partnership among the relevant sectors and stakeholders. The government of Bangladesh stands ready to play its role in facilitating any of such arrangements that could eventually result in a win-win outcome for all.
With these words, I declare the ‘Global Cotton Summit 2017’ open.
Thank you all.
Joy Bangla! Joy Bangabandhu!