Bangladesh's exports to EU reach record high: envoy

Bangladesh's exports to the EU rose to a record high in 2011, with earnings of 8.5 billion euros or about $11 billion, said EU Ambassador William Hanna on Monday.
The number far exceeded the previous record in 2010, when Bangladesh exports to the EU were 5.5 billion euros, of which about 87 percent consists of readymade garments, Hanna said.
The huge increase in exports was possible thanks to the relaxed rules of origin for Bangladesh that came into force in January 2011, he said to the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) when they met the EU delegation in Dhaka.
The BGMEA leaders, led by its President M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, thanked the EU for the duty- and quota-free access that Bangladesh enjoys, and for the recent relaxation of rules of origin.
BGMEA leaders, however, expressed concern that the recent economic difficulties in the EU may have a negative impact on future exports from Bangladesh.
They also conveyed their apprehension that the EU-India Free Trade Agreement, which is under negotiation, could lead to the erosion of Bangladesh's preferential edge in the EU.
The envoy agreed that the EU is now passing through a difficult time which poses a challenge to Bangladesh to adjust its business strategy.
Hanna emphasised diversification, improvement in productivity through skills development, and maintenance of quality to remain competitive in the EU market.

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