Garment exports to Italy, Japan remain unhurt

Bangladesh's garment shipments to Italy and Japan, the nationals of which were killed in a terrorist attack in Dhaka in July, remained unscathed in July-October -- a development that will bring a heavy sigh of relief among exporters.

In fact, apparel exports to the two nations increased during the period, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.

In a brazen attack in the heart of Dhaka's diplomatic zone on July 1, nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis and an Indian were killed.

All Italians killed in the attack were garment retailers, who had been doing business with Bangladesh for many years.

For example, Nadia Benedetti owned a buying house, Studiotex, which sourced more than $50 million worth of garment items from Bangladesh in a year.

Some others like Cristian Rossi and Claudia Maria D'Antona used to source few hundred million dollars worth of garment items in a year from the country.

During the July-October period, apparel items worth $378.30 million were exported to Italy -- the sixth largest garment export destination for Bangladesh -- up 6.43 percent year-on-year.

Similarly, garment shipments to Japan increased 7 percent year-on-year during the period. Some $230.58 million worth of apparel products were shipped to Japan, the largest importer of Bangladeshi garments in Asia.

"Retailers not only from Italy and Japan but from all over the world have started coming back," said Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

The reason is -- the restoration of confidence in safety of foreigners' lives in Bangladesh, he said.

"If the current security scenario continues, we will not face any dearth of retailers -- Bangladesh is their first choice for sourcing garment items." 

He, however, said the impact of the Gulshan attack on exports to Italy and Japan, if there is any, can be known in the months of November, December and January.

"But the situation right now is very normal," Babu added.

In fiscal 2015-16, garment exports to Italy, where duty-waiver is applied under the European Union's Everything but Arms scheme, grew 3.22 percent year-on-year to $1.39 billion.

Garment exports to Japan stood at $774.47 million last fiscal year, up 18.68 percent from a year earlier.


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