BGMEA issues rejoinder on Just-Style news on Bangladesh garment exports

report published by, an apparel sourcing website, titled ‘A mixed bag for Bangladesh garment exports’ has drawn our attention due to a few inconsistencies.

1. The report covered a brief analysis on Bangladesh’s recent garment export trend from multiple sources, particularly from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh, Eurostat and Otexa. It made quite a substantive analysis of the data from EPB. However, we could not agree with the data and analysis it quotes from Eurostat. The report mentions ‘imports of knitted and woven garments from Bangladesh jumped 20% year-on-year in the period January to October 2019, from EUR 13.9bn to EUR 16.7bn a year earlier.’ We find the clothing import data to be incorrect. In fact the data available in Eurostat shows that EU imported EUR 15.21bn worth of apparel (knitwear and woven garments) from Bangladesh during Jan-Oct of 2019. So, whereas the actual import growth during the mentioned period was 9.48%, the report mentions that the growth was 20%.

2. The other inconsistency in the report was the use of multiple currencies in reporting the data and its interpretation. The analysis of the data from EPB was done on US dollar value (as the EPB reports the data in US dollar currency). The data from Eurostat could have been converted from Euro to US dollars based on the exchange rates of the corresponding periods to have a proper comparison. The conversion of the EU’s import data to US dollar reveals that the growth in import of apparel by EU from Bangladesh during Jan-Oct of 2019 was 3.24% only, whereas the report mentions a growth of 20% for the same period.
3. The report mentions that ‘the export of ready-made garments (RMG) from Bangladesh fell by a percentage of 7.74% to US$13bn in the four months to November’. In fact the mentioned export drop was not over a period of four months, it was over a period of five months period (July-November 2019). Moreover, the selection of reporting period remains inconsistent throughout the report. It analyses data from EPB for a period of July-November 2019, while the data from Eurostat and Otexa was used for January-November 2019. It may be mentioned that EU’s apparel import from Bangladesh during July-October 2019 has grown by 4.76% in Euro value, and 0.32% only in US dollar value (year-on-year).
4. Nevertheless, both Eurostat and Otexa provide data on quantitative values, i.e. in KG and Square Meter Equivalent (SME) respectively. The quantitative data shows that EU’s clothing import from Bangladesh has grown only by 0.99% during Jan-Oct of 2019. In fact EU’s import from Bangladesh has rather declined by 1.99% during July-October 2019 (in kilogram value). For USA, it is correctly mentioned in the report that ‘…from January to October [2019], apparel imports from Bangladesh grew by 9.9% to US$5.1bn’. However, during the same period of time USA’s import from Bangladesh has grown only by 4.18% which could have been mentioned in the report for better understanding of the growth affairs. During July-October 2019, USA’s import from Bangladesh in quantitative value has dipped by 2.14%.
5. The report quotes a few numbers which significantly differ from reality, like – the apparel sector contributes around 20% to Bangladesh’s GDP, whereas it contributes only around 11%. It mentions that the sector created employment for 20 million people, which should be 4.4 million. And it says 8% of the world’s apparel export comes from Bangladesh, which in actuality, is 6.43% as per WTO data in 2018.