The southern Asian country of Bangladesh, bordered by India and Burma, has a population of approximately 164 million people. The Bangladesh economy has grown an average of six percent a year over the last two decades and has a population increasing by an average of 1.59% a year. This manufacturing industry accounted for almost 12% of Bangladeshi GDP in 2009 and 2010 and employs approximately four million people.
The export-oriented Bangladeshi garment manufacturing industry has boomed into a $19 billion dollar a year industry following the expiry in 2005 of an international agreement on textiles and clothing import quotas in place since the early 1960’s, duty-free access offered by western countries, and low labour costs.
The Bangladeshi textile and garment manufacturing sector is fuelled by young, urbanizing, workers many of whom are women. With the majority of production destined for U.S. and European markets, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry now accounts for approximately 78% of total exports, second only to China as the world’s largest apparel exporter. However, Bangladesh has a long history of health and safety tragedies in garment and textile manufacturing. Garment factory fires and collapses have killed at least 1800 workers since 2005.
The Tazreen Fashions fire on 24th November 2012 and the unprecedented disaster of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex on 24 April 2013, together resulting in the tragic death of over 1,200 garment workers are examples of the most recent and highly publicised disasters. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is designed to make all garment factories safe workplaces and is specifically developed to deal with the unique challenges facing the ready-made garment and textile industry in Bangladesh.
 CIA (2013) ‘The World Factbook’ Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html
 Reuters (2013) ‘Bangladesh urges no harsh measures over factory deaths’ Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/04/us-bangladesh-factory-idUSBRE94304420130504
 Reuters Ibid
 World Trade Organization (2013) ‘Textiles’ Available at: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/texti_e/texti_e.htm
 CCC & SOMO (2013) ‘Fatal Fashion’ Available at: http://www.cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/fatal-fashion.pdf
 CCC & SOMO Ibid