Bangladesh and Denmark enjoy excellent bilateral relations, which is characterised by friendly feelings and empathy, as is well reflected in the economic co-operation between the two countries in various sectors of our development. Denmark is the leading country in the world achieving green and sustainable economic growth and has unparalleled experience in the whole range of green issues which include renewable energy, energy efficiency, water and waste treatment, green city planning, and sustainable production.
Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh, HE Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen recently shared her view about two country’s trade relation in the area of Textile and Apparel Industry, in an interview with Team Denim Focus. The key points of the interview are drafted below-
Denim Focus: What is your observation about global trade in this post-pandemic period?
HE Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen: In the post-pandemic global trade environment, we have seen demand soar after being suppressed during Covid. The monetary and fiscal policies in place enabled this. What we are seeing also is demand shifting from services to goods, causing all the while experiencing major supply chain disruptions and persistent bottlenecks. With the rise of commodity prices, inflation, and changing supply chains, we are seeing a need for more resilience and sustainability, especially built into the global supply chains.
Denim Focus: How are you observing bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Denmark in terms of the textile and apparel industry?
HE Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen: Denmark’s bilateral trade with Bangladesh reached USD 1.2 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2022 while the textile and apparel sourcing from Bangladesh crossed the USD 1 billion for the first time in Danish-Bangladeshi trade history. This is a remarkable milestone in our 50 years of partnership and shows the maturity of our trade relations.
Denim Focus: What are the challenges to ensuring strong bilateral relationship between two countries?
HE Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen: The relationship between Denmark and Bangladesh is strong and comprehensive. Going forward we see a scope to further strengthen sustainable sourcing from Bangladesh. The EU is working on a set of rules, which may make social and environmental due diligence in sourcing mandatory for European companies by 2023. Compliance, sustainability – and the documentation hereof – will become crucial for Bangladeshi exporters. Denmark is here to support Bangladesh and work together on increasing the standards of environmental impact and workers’ protection.
This is why our cooperation with the BGMEA, its members, and the government is focused on ensuring a more sustainable and ‘greener’ production. Together with our partners, we strive for even more efficient production, which does not put more pressure on already strained planetary resources. But sustainability is more than just the environment. It is also the social element. Decent working conditions at factories will help support a stable labour market, which in turn is good for both society and trade. Denmark is going to continue working on projects and dialogues that enable the advancement of SDG 8/Decent Work in Bangladesh.
Denim Focus: What are your current initiatives for ensuring sustainability in Bangladesh?
HE Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen: I wish to see Denmark as a preferred partner to Bangladesh that can help unlock the most sustainable version of economic growth, development, and competitiveness. The recently signed Sustainable and Green Framework, between the two countries, seeks to reorient existing projects as well as emphasise on the sustainability of all future activities in our ever-expanding relationship.
We seek to implement the Danish Government’s focus on the triple bottom line in our economic diplomacy. Responsible business means focussing on firstly People, which refers to appropriate protection of workers’. Secondly, on Planet, which refers to protecting the climate and environment. Thirdly, on profit, of course. In this respect, it is important not to create profit based on externalities, which destroys the environment and creates long-term hazards for people.
That is why we support PACT II. It helps the Bangladeshi textile and apparel industry to identify areas that are suitable for cleaner technologies and will build sustainable industrial processes. We also support ILO’s focus on workers’ decent conditions. We have dedicated people cooperating with other multilateral and bilateral partners to ensure social sustainability becomes as integral as the environmental and economic sustainability. Finally, we are on-boarding a Value Chain Specialist who will help guide Danish companies in sourcing more sustainably from Bangladesh.
Denim Focus: Any Message to the Industry?
HE Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen: The BGMEA holds ambitions to position Bangladesh as a Sustainable Hub for Production and Sourcing of textiles and apparel. We believe with the right technology, diligence, and partnerships, this vision can be made a reality.