In recent months, our news cycle has been dominated by the burgeoning health crisis created by the unchecked spread of coronavirus in Bangladesh, the impacts of a global economic downturn on our economy, and the seasonal floods that have swept across the country and affected millions of people. Against this backdrop, the promising rise in exports and remittances in the month of July this year is welcome news indeed.
According to data from the Export Promotion Bureau, exports fetched USD 3.9 billion in July, which is 44.4 percent more from the previous month and 0.6 percent more from a year earlier. The rise in export earnings was led by the garment sector—garment shipments raked in USD 3.2 billion, which is 14.1 percent more than the target set by the commerce ministry for July and most surprisingly, almost the same amount that was earned in July last year.
However, while we welcome these promising prospects in the exports sector, let us not forget the possibility that July's earnings were higher because most of the shipments that were stuck between April and May due to lockdowns all over the world were dispatched in the last two months. As markets began to open up in the rest of the world and retail sales, especially in Europe, recover and potentially return to pre-lockdown levels, we must take this opportunity to bolster our exports as much as possible. This means focusing not just on garments, but on jute and jute goods, home textiles, agricultural products, and primary and pharmaceutical product shipments—the export of all of which picked up in the last month.
At the same time, we must also look to the businesses in our economy that make up these important export sectors, and the workers whose hard labour leads to these highly-valued export earnings. Let us not forget that more than 25,000 garment workers have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. This daily also published an extensive report on at least 1,931 global brands which have either delayed, put on hold, or simply cancelled their orders (worth around USD 3.7 billion) to Bangladeshi suppliers since the onset of Covid-19. We must do all we can to ensure that these Bangladeshi companies and workers get their fair dues during these difficult times.