German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller has said he greatly hoped that they will find an approach that will safeguard the survival of the textile industry in Germany and also in Bangladesh, with the millions of people working in that sector.
"I will not forget the workers in Bangladesh," he said in a reply to an appeal made by President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Dr Rubana Huq.
In order to cushion the impact of the pandemic on production countries such as Bangladesh, the German Federal Minister on Tuesday said his ministry is currently evaluating a number of different support measures aimed at ensuring that production companies are able to stay in business and at safeguarding jobs and incomes.
"In this current emergency, demand and orders for certain products, such as protective medical clothing in particular, are changing. I hope that, for this interim period, Bangladesh will receive orders for these products," the letter sent to Huq reads.
Thanking for her letter, the German Minister also said Bangladesh is one of the most important partners for the German textile industry and he has every understanding for Huq's concerns.
"The corona pandemic has placed the world in a state of emergency. Restrictions have been imposed on free movement, restaurants and shops have had to close," said Minister Müller.
This, he said, has hit the German textile industry particularly hard.
"Some companies have experienced a 70 per cent drop in consumer demand. Associations representing the textile industry fear that a third of German textile businesses are under threat of collapse," Müller said.
What makes the situation even more difficult is that nobody knows how long the corona pandemic will maintain its grip on the world, he mentioned.
"Let me assure you that I share your concern regarding the social distress threatening to engulf textile companies and their workers in Bangladesh," said Minister Müller.
In response to the appeal that Huq directed towards him, the German said, "I therefore now intend to pass your urgent request on to representatives of the German textile industry."
The German Minister looked back on his visit to Dhaka several weeks ago and on the open and informative discussion he had with the BGMEA President.
"Yet how quickly developments can take a different turn, as we are currently experiencing with the insidious corona virus, which is bringing life to a standstill not only here in Germany but worldwide, including in your country," the German Minister wrote.
Earlier, the BGMEA chief wrote to German Federal Minister and urged him to kindly immediately address all their brands sourcing from Bangladesh to not cancel or hold any shipment up.
"While the businesses in Germany receive government support and address their losses, at our end we have an existential problem as we have to pay our workers," she mentioned.
Huq informed the German Minister that they have given brands the assurance that they can pay 90 days later but they still need to take the ordered goods.
"In the face of cancellation, it is only evident that we will fail to pay our workers which will create serious social unrest and I am certain the no German brands would like to see that happen in their account," the letter sent to German Minister read.
This unfortunate occurrence, Huq mentioned, is a disaster that neither humanity nor commerce can afford.
She said Bangladesh has a different manufacturing reality and they would be deeply grateful if the German Minister could kindly urge the German brands to take in all their goods, and allow shipments and production to continue till July at least.
"Without this support, we will have a disastrous impact on our labour force and our businesses," Huq mentioned.