Receipts from merchandise export declined 7.3 percent year-on-year to $2.91 billion in September for a slowdown in shipment of garments and other major products.
This is the second consecutive month the export earnings marked a decline.
September’s earnings were also 7.78 percent lower than the month’s target of $3.16 billion, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
In September last year, Bangladesh exported merchandise worth $3.14 billion.
Overall, export earnings in the first quarter (between July and September) of the current fiscal year declined 2.94 percent year-on-year to $9.64 billion. It is also 11.05 percent shy of the target of $10.84 billion, EPB data showed.
In the three months, the earnings from almost all major sectors, such as garment, leather and leather goods, and frozen foods fell.
Garment shipment between July and September fell by 1.64 percent year-on-year to $8.05 billion.
Earnings from garment shipment, which accounts for more than 80 percent of national exports, were 11.52 percent below the quarter’s target of $9.10 billion.
Of the earnings by the garment sector, $4.17 billion came from knitwear and $3.88 billion from woven garment.
The Eid-ul-Azha festival took place in August and most of the factories were closed for almost one third of the month, said Asif Ibrahim, a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“The decline of exports in September is mainly due to the non-utilisation of full production capacity on the occasion of the holidays,” he said.
A significant number of factories have also been shut down since February 2019, resulting in job losses, said Ibrahim, also the vice-chairman of Newage Group, a leading garment exporter.
“We all need to ensure that the sustainability of the leading export sector of the economy and the issue of jobless growth is given priority by the policymakers,” he said.
Garment exporters expect shipments to rebound soon as international retailers and brands are coming over with a lot of work orders because of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, the world’s two biggest economies.
The apparel retailers and brands are also coming to Bangladesh for the brighter image created through a lot of improvements at factories and strengthening of workplace safety as per recommendations of the Accord and the Alliance.
Leather and leather goods export had rebounded in August. However, it again dropped last month for a production halt during Eid vacation and poor compliance by tanners, industry insiders said.
The export of frozen and live fish like shrimp and crab dropped 9.08 percent year-on-year to $125.20 million and that of agricultural products 10.60 percent to $262.57 million.
Shipment of cement, pharmaceuticals, terry towel, ceramics and home textile also performed poorly.
However, jute and jute goods export increased by 1.84 percent to $220.85 million, jute carpet by 4.51 percent to $5.79 million and engineering products by 23.37 percent to $93.02 million.
Export of plastic goods rose by 18.01 percent to $31.51 million.