Modern Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation in 1971 after achieving independence from Pakistan in the Bangladesh liberation war. The country's borders coincide with the major portion of the ancient and historic region of Bengal in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, where civilization dates back over four millennium to the Chalcolithic. The history of the region is closely intertwined with the history of Bengal and the history of India.
Lalbagh Fort (also Fort Aurangabad) is an incomplete 17th century Mughal fort complex that stands proudly before the Buriganga River in the southwestern part of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The construction was started in 1678 AD by Mughal Subahdar Muhammad Azam Shah who was son of Emperor Aurangzeb and later emperor himself. His successor, Shaista Khan, did not continue the work, though he stayed in Dhaka up to 1688.
The United States introduced the Tariff Relief Assistance for Developing Economies Act of 2009 designated Bangladesh as one of the 14 least developed countries (LDC), as defined by the United Nations and the US State Department, eligible for "duty-free access for apparel assembled in those countries and exported to the U.S." from 2009 through 2019. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), an industry lobby group, claimed that in 2008 alone Bangladesh paid "$USD 576 million as duty against its export of nearly $3 billion' mainly consisting of woven and knitwear.
The economy of Bangladesh is largely dependent on agriculture. However the Ready Made Garments (RMG) sector has emerged as the biggest earner of foreign currency. In 1972, the World Bank approximated the gross domestic product (GDP) of Bangladesh at USD 6.29 billion, in 2014, the GDP stood at USD 173.82 billion, growing by almost 27 times (Latifee, E. H., 2016) in a matter of four decades. Bangladesh's exports industry alone comprised USD 31.2 billion in FY 2014-15, 81.69% of which was made up by ready-made garments. On its own, the knitwear sector encompasses 39.83% of total exports—a staggering USD 12.43 billion. The RMG sector has experienced an exponential growth since the 1980s. The sector contributes significantly to the GDP. It also provides employment to around 4.2 million Bangladeshis, mainly women from low income families.
The garment sector is the largest employer of women in Bangladesh. The garment sector has provided employment opportunities to women from the rural areas that previously did not have any opportunity to be part of the formal workforce. This has given women the chance to be financially independent and have a voice in the family because now they contribute financially. However, women workers face problems. Most women come from low income families. Low wage of women workers and their compliance have enabled the industry to compete with the world market. Women are paid far less than men mainly due to their lack of education. Women are reluctant to unionize because factory owners threaten to fire them. Even though trade unionization is banned inside the Export processing Zones (EPZ), the working environment is better than that of the majority of garment factories that operate outside the EPZs. But, pressure from buyers to abide by labor codes has enabled factories to maintain satisfactory working conditions. Garment workers have protested against their low wages. The firsts protests broke out in 2006, and since then, there have been periodic protests by the workers. This has forced the government to increase minimum wages of workers.
As the country gains experience from working with buyers from different countries, the country becomes more familiar with different quality standards, environment requirements, compliance issues, above all, learning business methods. Due to long-time businesses with international buyers, the country not only earned foreign revenues but also developed general human resources into one of the most useful human assets for the nation. Some of them already proved themselves as successful business leaders, industrialists, consultants, and policy makers. The clothing sector acquainted with different global standards for manufacturing, social compliance and Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).
Currently Bangladesh is now second largest ready-made garments (RMG) manufacturer after China, by the next five years Bangladesh will become the largest ready-made garments (RMG) manufacturer. Bangladesh was the sixth largest exporter of apparel in the world after China, the EU, Hong Kong, Turkey and India in 2006.
Bangladesh rose to its position largely because of its lack of regulation and the low wages it pays its garment workers, most of whom are women. Bangladesh’s minimum wage for the sector is one of the world’s lowest or according to some groups, the very lowest—even after the government raised it in response to fallout from the Rana Plaza disaster. As fashion brands look to cut costs, and wages continue to rise in China, Bangladesh becomes an increasingly attractive place to make clothes on the cheap.
Because the country's labor wage is very cheap, buyers are interested in the garments sector of Bangladesh. A comparison by Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights shows that the labour cost to make a Denim Shirt is $0.22 in Bangladesh whereas it is $7.47 in USA.
In 2006 Bangladesh's share in the world apparel exports was 2.8%. The US was the largest single market with US$3.23 billion in exports, a 30% share in 2007. Today, the US remains the largest market for Bangladesh's woven garments taking US$2.42 billion, a 47% share of Bangladesh's total woven exports. The European Union remains the largest regional destination - Bangladesh exported US$5.36 billion in apparel; 50% of their total apparel exports. The EU took a 61% share of Bangladeshi knitwear with US$3.36 billion exports.
The RMG sector is expected to grow despite the global financial crisis of 2009. As China is finding it challenging to make textile and foot wear items at cheap price, due to rising labor costs, many foreign investors, are coming to Bangladesh to take advantage of the low labor cost. Local accessories are being made including zippers, buttons, labels, hooks, hangers, elastic bands, thread, backboards, butterfly pins, clips, collar stays, collarbones and cartons. The accessory market is dominated by multinational companies operating in Bangladesh, because in the majority of cases, garment buyers prefer accessories from them over the locally available items.