Exports slip slightly

Fetch $19.23b in Jul-Dec

Merchandise shipment declined 0.36 per cent year-on-year to $19.23 billion in July-December 2020 as Bangladesh's major export destinations continued to struggle to tame the rising coronavirus infections, official data showed.

Earnings from the apparel shipment, which typically contributes 84 per cent to the national exports, dropped 2.99 per cent to $15.54 billion, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Of the export receipts, $8.52 billion came from knitwear shipment, up 3.9 per cent from a year ago. Woven exports declined 10.22 per cent to $7.01 billion.

Despite the pandemic, the knitwear shipment rose as people mostly wear casual dresses as they stay indoors and work from home because of the health crisis.

Merchandise exports in December declined 6.11 per cent year-on-year to $3.3 billion. Last month's receipts were 6.13 per cent shy of the monthly export target of $3.5 billion.

Garment export was down 9.64 per cent in December as the pandemic continues to batter the global economy.

Last month, woven garment export posted the worst performance since June plummeting 18.07 per cent. Knitwear export fell 0.45 per cent.

Overall, the garment export witnessed an unprecedented 16.94 per cent year-on-year decline in 2020, according to exporters.

"Given the effects of the lockdowns in Europe and the US and their impact on retail and demand, the worst-ever Christmas sales, and the effect of price decline, it was a dark year for the industry," said Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

"As the uncertainties and stresses caused by the second wave persist coupled with the relatively poor administration and unavailability of vaccines, and the impact on global economy it would leave, this downtrend in exports will probably continue until April."

Mohammad Hatem, senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, attributed more extended homestay by people for the higher export of knitwear items.

He said the prices of knitwear items made in Bangladesh were lower compared to those in other countries. "As a result, buyers have continued their business with Bangladesh even during the pandemic."

In case of knitwear items, the shorter lead time is a major factor, he said.

Knitwear manufacturers can secure the raw materials for knitwear items easily from the local markets. For the majority of raw materials needed to produce woven garments, suppliers need to depend on imports.

Earnings from the shipment of leather and leather products, the second-largest foreign currency earning sector, slid 6.24 per cent to $446.13 million. Jute and jute goods fetched 30.56 per cent higher at $668.11 million.

Export of home textile, bicycle, agricultural products and pharmaceuticals grew in the first half of the fiscal year. 

Frozen and live fish export declined by 3.71 per cent to $279.72 million, EPB data showed. 


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