Global recession may have had a major impact on the exports of garments in 2009-10, but a few new markets opened up during the critical period as if to provide the much-needed succour to the affected exporters.
Shipments to the new markets helped the major export earning sector of the country to manage a small growth in the last fiscal year. According to officials of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), garment shipments to Bangladesh’s traditional markets either declined or witnessed insignificant growth – in terms of value -- over the year.
While shipments to the USA, the number one market for Bangladeshi apparel, declined 1.6 per cent to $3.63 billion, those to Germany had a dip in growth to 5.6 per cent at $2 billion.
However, exports to the UK went up three per cent at $1.26 billion, France witnessed an 1.8 per cent increase in Bangladeshi garment exports at $970 million and shipments to Canada registered growth of 1.5 per cent at $596 million. Garment exports to Italy went up 3.4 per cent growth at $541 million but shipments to Spain posted a 4.6 per cent decrease in growth at $521 million.
During the last fiscal year, decreases and minor increases in garment exports to the country’s major markets pulled down the overall growth to a disappointing 1.5 per cent.
Garment export earnings, which constitute nearly four-fifths of the country’s entire export proceeds, had recorded growth of at 11 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, in the previous two fiscal years. Industry watchers say growth in garment exports in 2009-10 would have dipped considerably but for the new markets.
The EPB report shows that Bangladesh garment exports to Turkey increased 28 per cent at $306 million, exports to Japan witnessed 134 per cent growth at $174 million and to Australia shipments increased 84 per cent at $85 million.
According to EPB records, Bangladeshi garment exports to these new markets, where the country’s apparel had an insignificant presence, are now really looking up.
Bangladesh garment shipments to South Africa amounted to $48 million in 2009 calendar year, up nearly five per cent from 2008 and more than double the shipment in 2007, South African statistics says.
Garment shipments to China and Hong Kong increased by 41 per cent to $45 million. Brazil witnessed 15 per cent growth in Bangladeshi garment exports at $45 million, Saudi Arabia 29 per cent at $22 million, South Korea 306 per cent at $22 million, India 18 per cent at $13 million, New Zealand 263 per cent at $10.5 million and garment shipments to Taiwan doubled in the year to $ 5 million.
“We are pinning our hopes on at least 10 new markets including Turkey, Japan and Brazil as growth in shipments to these countries is very high,” said the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA), Abdul Salam Murshedy.
Murshedy said exporters were quite serious about exploring new markets.
“Although exports to these new markets are much less than those made to our traditional markets, local exporters are quite upbeat about the new markets,” he said.
Mostafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said local exporters were increasingly turning to these new markets after they burnt their fingers in the recession-hit traditional markets in the US and the European Union.