By virtue of a growing rank of dynamic, opportunity-seizing and forward-looking entrepreneurs we are industrialising at a rapid pace. We are growing quietly -- no drum-beating by the captains of industry, their performance doing the talking. The fields we are making strides in are leather, leather goods, especially shoe-making, food-processing, pharmaceuticals, ship-building, to name the obvious ones.
In some of these areas we have had pioneers like in the garments sector. And, so the counselled or the preached first generation entrepreneurs would learn the ropes and become converts and replicators setting up their own business on a modest to middling scale. But before long, they will have made it big, for sure.
China, even Vietnam is abandoning labour-intensive industries like apparel or shoe manufactures to move on to high tech ventures. Prudence dictates China that it optimise use of its limited working age people-thanks to its one-child policy for long-by imparting higher skills to them in select profit-maximising areas. That is why Bangladesh is a beneficiary of Japan's China plus policy. This has meant that Japan has been reducing its dependence on China for apparel imports; consequently, Bangladesh's garments export to Japan has already topped $1.0 billion. What is more to the point, Tokyo flags off our RMG's entry into non-traditional garment export destinations. Incidentally, Japanese importers are reportedly flooding in with inquiries for placing orders with our apparel and knitwear manufacturers/exporters.
China, once a metaphor for excellent shoe-making in good old ways has rolled that badge of tiny honour off its sleeves. Vietnam with a smaller population is climbing up the ladder of higher tech manufacturing processes. As a result, its shoe industry is being relegated to the backstage. A vacuum in terms of footwear export is potentially there to be filled in. Bangladesh's footwear industry with its reputation may have an edge there over other competitors.
Leather and leather goods industry is a future-looking industry and its processes too are going high tech with quality assurance and environmental safeguards.
Domestically, it has a good market as rural folks refuse to buy shoes cheap; clearly their purchasing power and taste make them brand-oriented. On the other hand, newer export markets are being prised open. Government's right policy mix thrown into the equation could work wonders.
What, however, is a big missing link is the acute dearth of skilled mid-level managers and technicians. Pools of them will have to be created locally; otherwise, we will be dependent on hired hands from neighbouring countries. Borrowing expertise is not bad in itself, but exchange of expertise is infinitely better. We need to create a capacity for that to happen.
It is good augury that a leading footwear industry has been conducting training programmes turning out batches of skilled mid-level managers.
At any rate, we think it is necessary to harness public-private partnership targeting young people to develop skilled workforce for industries as well as for jobs abroad.
Having said that, the tannery industry's long-awaited movement from Hazaribagh to Savar, complete with the CTEP (central effluent treatment plant) and respective industries having their waste treatment and disposal plants must be fully accomplished. That robust signal of our firm commitment to upgrading environmental standards for the sake of public health and in defence of good industrial practices must go out to all our global partners.