The government has moved to assess the impact of coronavirus outbreak on various sectors, including readymade garments.
During a special meeting at the commerce ministry yesterday, representatives of Bangladesh Bank, National Board of Revenue, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association were asked to submit reports by Sunday.
The ministry would study the reports next week.
“We do not have any information about specific impact on exports. However, there is an apprehension there could be some,” Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told reporters after the meeting.
“We are observing everything. Our secretary has met with the stakeholders. We have asked them to file a report quickly … We would get a clear picture shortly. We would then take steps accordingly.”
The minister said that the outbreak so far had no impact on the garment industry. “Raw materials and machinery were imported 15-20 days earlier. A few shipments are already on the way. Coronavirus outbreak will not have any immediate impact.”
He, however, said they were thinking about future as there were difficulties in opening new letters of credit for importing goods.
Bangladesh imports raw materials for garments mainly from China, worth around $11-13 billion annually.
“We have to take experts’ opinion whether imported Chinese cloths could contain coronavirus. If no, buyers would have no reservations ... There is scarcity of information globally.
“It is tough for us to find any alternative overnight … However, we would try to assess the severity of the situation and then think of alternatives.”
Siddiqur Rahman, former president of the BGMEA, said there was disruption in the Chinese port at Shanghai which could impact delivery of goods.
He feared garment exports this year could fail to reach $32 billion.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming yesterday suggested all remain alert and not panic.
He said no Chinese national in Bangladesh and no Bangladeshi in China had been infected, reports UNB.
The ambassador made the remarks while briefing a small group of journalists at the embassy.
The ambassador expressed displeasure over what he said was overreaction by countries like the USA and Australia.