Exports fall 6%, adding to economic gloom
Bangladesh's export earnings declined for the second consecutive month in November amid the continued slowdown in readymade garment shipments, in another worrying development for the already strained economy.
Receipts from the sector fell 6.05 percent year-on-year to $4.78 billion last month, shows data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) yesterday.
The shipment dropped 13.64 percent in October.
The fall comes at a time when the festive season is kicking off in western nations, Bangladesh's key export destinations. As such, this development could dash the country's hopes of recovering from its ongoing foreign currency crisis in the immediate future.
Still, the exports in November were the highest in five months.
The growth in overall export earnings from merchandise shipments slowed to 1.30 percent in the five-month period as exporters shipped goods worth $22.23 billion.
Shipments of garments, which account for about 85 percent of Bangladesh's export earnings, fell 7.45 percent year-on-year to $4.05 billion in November period, data compiled by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) showed.
Apparel sales rose 2.75 percent to $18.84 billion, with knitwear shipments rising 8.66 percent to $10.99 billion. Woven garment shipments fell 4.52 percent to $7.85 billion.
Earnings from home textiles plunged 42.27 percent to $299.42 million while specialised textile manufacturers posted 22.78 percent year-on-year export growth to bring home $124 million, according to the EPB.
Mohammad Hatem, executive president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, highlighted the factors behind the downward exports.
"Most garment factories are currently running at 50 percent capacity for two reasons. The first is a fall in inflow of work orders from international clothing retailers and brands while the second is inadequate gas supply for industrial units."
He warned that the work order situation may worsen in the near future as buyers are offering too low prices even after the wage hikes for garment workers.
"The irony is that many factory owners are accepting bookings even with such low prices merely in order to stay afloat until potential profits in the future."
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said woven was performing worse than earlier compared to knitwear as prices for sweaters, which fall under the knitwear category, recently rose.
"Besides, the knitwear sector has greater scope for value addition."
He said the recent labour unrest was also responsible for the lower export earnings from garment shipments in November. Also, the unit price of garment items sourced from Bangladesh has fallen.
Exports of jute and jute goods declined 10.99 percent to $361.91 million, led by a 32.48 percent drop in raw jute shipment and 20.80 percent reduction in jute sack and bag sales.
The receipts from the export of leather and leather products stood at $427 million in July-November, down 20.55 percent year-on-year. The dip was driven by a 34.75 percent decline in leather footwear exports.
Leather shipments rose 0.56 percent and leather products sales were up 2.11 percent, EPB data showed. Meanwhile, footwear sales were down 7.16 percent at $194.51 million.
Pharmaceutical sales in external markets rose 8.14 percent to $80.26 million.
Frozen and live fish exporters, who ship shrimps and crabs among others, recorded a 15.88 percent year-on-year decrease in sales to register a combined $175 million.
The manufacturers of agriculture products who export goods such as tea, vegetables, tobacco, fruits and spices posted a 0.86 percent decline in receipts at $420.59 million.
The government has set a target to earn $62 billion from merchandise exports in fiscal 2023-24 while it was $55.55 billion a year ago.