The textile millers of the country urged a temporary ban on the commercial import of cotton yarn used in the readymade garment (RMG) industry to retain forex reserves and to boost garment value addition.
Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), urged it in a letter to the governor of the Bangladesh Bank on April 3.
However, apparel exporters have opposed the idea, claiming that it will reduce their competitiveness in the international markets.
The BTMA stated that there are 510 local spinning mills with a combined production capacity of 3,600 million kg of cotton yarn, which can supply 70% of the demand for the export-oriented apparel industry.
The mills have a large stock of the raw materials because demand has decreased.
“If the locally produced cotton yarn is sourced or used, the value addition would be up to 60% against the 30% value addition of imported ones,” he also said.
Khokon urged the central bank governor to take measures to stop back-to-back letters of credit (LCs) opening for cotton yarn imports, saying that Bangladesh is 100% capable of producing cotton yarn.
However, the apparel manufacturers of the country opposed the decision of banning yarn imports as it may reduce their competitiveness.
Speaking to the media, Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said that if any initiative is taken to ban the import of yarn, it will reduce competitiveness.
“By doing this, the local mill owners will start taking advantage of the monopoly business. We saw the price of yarn climb up to $5 per kg from $2.5. As the buyers won’t increase the products’ price, it will reduce competition,” he added.
He also said that if the price of local and imported yarn is the same, there are no problems as they always prefer to source from local suppliers.
The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Executive President Mohammad Hatem told the media that there should not be any restriction for an export-oriented industry to sustain its competitiveness in the global market.
Moreover, the local spinners cannot meet the export sector’s full demand for yarn and fabric, so they have to import yarn and fabric, especially the special kind of such products, while sometimes buyers nominate the required raw materials from abroad.
According to BTMA, Bangladesh imported 0.543 million tonnes of cotton yarn in 2022, which was 0.297 million tonnes in 2019.
According to industry insiders, by next year, the sector is going to see a new investment worth $4 billion in yarn production.
BTMA also said that before the end of next year, the yarn production capacity of the sector is going to increase to 35 lakh bales (per bale = 480 pounds or about 218 kg).