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Exports drop on faltering recovery of apparel

Bangladesh’s merchandise exports declined 4.08 per cent year-on-year to $2.94 billion in October because of the faltering recovery of garment shipment from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed yesterday.

Last month’s receipts are also 6.03 per cent shy of the monthly target of $3.13 billion, according to data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

The shipment from July to October, the first four months of the current fiscal year, rose 0.97 per cent year-on-year to $12.84 billion.

Apparel shipment, which typically contributes more than 84 per cent to the national exports, declined by 1.2 per cent year-on-year to $10.45 billion in the four-month period.

Knitwear exports fetched $5.80 billion, registering 4.76 per cent year-on-year growth from July to October. The shipment of woven was down 7.76 per cent to $4.64 billion.

After recording a historic decline of 18.12 per cent in export growth in FY2019-20 and the seven consecutive months of falling growth, shipments edged up to the positive territory in August and September, said Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

She said garment exports posted 7.78 per cent negative growth in October highlighting the faltering recovery in global demand and trade.

It is quite alarming that “this decline in exports is predominantly caused by the fall in woven garment export,” Huq told The Daily Star.

Though country-wise export data is not available yet for October, the July-September data shows that export to non-traditional markets suffered the most, while shipment to the EU and the US maintained stable growth and helped Bangladesh turn around in exports, Huq said.

“Since Europe has entered into a fresh wave of Covid-19 infection, lockdowns are being declared in many countries, including France, Germany, Belgium and Greece, it would be difficult for us to cope up if the EU’s demand for clothing and its sourcing is troubled further.

“This is worrying for us since Europe is our major market.”

In October, the price of garments produced by Bangladesh fell on average by 4.15 per cent and the price growth in July to October was 3.45 per cent negative.

“Covid-19 has caused severe financial damages to our factories. The industry is running at a lower capacity by maintaining health protocol, which has certain costs, and the decline in prices at this point of time is killing us,” Huq said.

In the July-October period, jute and jute goods export grew 39.52 per cent to $438.78 million and leather and leather goods export dropped 10.63 per cent to $283.2 million, EPB data showed.

The government has set a $41 billion export target for the current fiscal year. The target is 21.75 per cent higher than the $33.67 billion earnings logged in last fiscal year.
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