Dhaka attack 'damaging' for garment industry
THE slaughter of diners at a Dhaka cafe has fanned fears that Islamic violence may imperil the garment industry in Bangladesh which built its name on supplying cheap clothes to top brands.
Said Faruque Hassan, senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association which represents 4,500 factories: "The impact of this attack will be very damaging for the industry."
Even before the cafe siege, Bangladesh, the world's second-biggest exporter of apparel after China, was reeling from a wave of Islamic-linked killings.
"The hostage crisis in Dhaka is a terrible tragedy reflecting how security has deteriorated," said Sarah Labowitz, co-director at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights in New York.
"This kind of attack will surely keep (fashion) buyers away in the months leading up to the holiday shopping season."
Bangladesh has clocked growth of around 6 per cent nearly every year since the turn of the millennium.
That is largely thanks to garment exports, accounting for more than 80 per cent of total outbound goods last year.
The nation's clothing factories employ more than four million people.
Ulrica Bogh Lind, a spokesman for H&M which sources many of its clothes from Bangladesh, told Agence France-Presse the Swedish chain was "monitoring the situation in Dhaka closely".
Yet, Bangladesh has ridden out numerous storms, seeing off threats from labour unrest, mass transport blockades and large-scale political paralysis - as well as workplace disasters.
Clothing exports swelled nearly 10 per cent in the year to June, to US$27.3 billion (S$36.7 billion).