Future bright for apparel exports to Canada: envoy
Bangladesh's apparel exports to Canada have been on the rise in the last five years due to duty benefits, newly appointed Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit Pierre Laramee said yesterday.
Canada is a bright spot for Bangladeshi apparel, with garment and textile products making up a bulk of Canada's imports from Bangladesh, Laramee said.
In 2013-14, garment exports to Canada from Bangladesh reached $1 billion, which was $595.55 million in 2009-10, Laramee said.
About 96 percent of Canada's imports in a year from Bangladesh are apparel items, he added.
However, garment exports to Canada have been slowing in recent months due to some oddities in the domestic market. In July-December this fiscal year, garment exports to Canada fell 14.60 percent to $425.88 million from $498.71 million in the same period of last fiscal year, according to data from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“Canada is pleased to provide duty free access to Bangladesh, an opportunity which immensely benefits the readymade garments sector,” Laramee said at a meeting with the garment exporters at the BGMEA office.
Canada's commercial relationship with Bangladesh has grown dramatically in the last decade; bilateral trade has more than tripled from $478 million in 2003 to nearly $1.7 billion in 2012, Laramee said.
“Today, our trade relationship stands at $1.9 billion. It has grown by over 300 percent since 2004. The trade relationship remains in Bangladesh's favour, with Bangladesh exporting merchandise worth over 1.2 billion Canadian dollars.”
The country's $50 billion apparel export target by 2021 will contribute towards its broader vision to attain middle income status, he said.
However, Bangladesh should strategise and plan on how it will manage the sector during the transition from a low to middle income country. This will be important as Bangladesh will not get duty free access once it reaches middle income country status, Laramee added.
In his speech, Laramee also lauded the country's progress in ensuring workplace safety and establishing labour rights after the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013.
“The sector is at a turning point. Many reforms are underway to improve working conditions and to make the sector more competitive; but more work remains.”
Canada contributed $8 million to ILO (International Labour Organisation) managed $24 million project to improve the working conditions in the Bangladesh garment sector.
He stressed the need for continued dialogues in the '3+5' committee comprising three secretaries of the Bangladesh government and five diplomats of five countries to improve workplace safety and labour rights in the garment sector.
Bangladesh has the potential to be a model for the garment industry in the region and globally, he said. The adoption of green technologies and the efficient use of natural resources, such as water, will be a key consideration, he said.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam urged the envoy for cooperation from the Canadian market to achieve the $50 billion export target.a