Exports advanced 23.22 percent in December from the previous month to take last year's earnings to $29.1 billion, the highest in the nation's history, in spite of the political turmoil at home and image crisis faced by the chief export grosser, the garment sector.
Propelled by garment products which raked in a record $23.5 billion, last year's figure is also an improvement of about 16 percent over 2012's takings of $25.1 billion, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.
“We have proved our resilience against domestic odds. The export trend is extremely positive,” said Shubhashish Bose, vice-chairman of EPB, while expressing his optimism over achieving fiscal 2013-14's export targets.
He said the demand for the country's garment products is “still very good”. “Our pricing is very competitive, so the international retailers are bound to come to us.”
“Moreover, market diversification of garment products is taking place at a rapid pace, and the new markets are performing very well, too,” Bose said, while citing India, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, China and Australia as strong new destinations.
Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, however, did not sound too buoyant over 2013's export figures, as “those orders came before troubles on the domestic front
“Currently, the garment sector is under a mountain of problems due to the political unrest and the continued general strike and blockades,” he said, adding that around Tk 5,000 crore worth of goods needed to be sent via the expensive air shipment in December alone.
He urged the political parties for a quick and peaceful solution to the deadlock. “The government should think about the sector seriously, as the current situation is not good for us at all. We are losing our competitiveness by the day for the political unrest.”
The country earned $2.73 billion in December, up 10.54 percent year-on-year and 4.06 percent over the target.
The export performance during the July-December period stayed 3.08 percent above the target, according to Bose.