Garment exports to US on the decline
Garment exports to the US, Bangladesh's single largest export destination, declined 3.17 percent year-on-year to $4.64 billion during January-November last year, due to a slowdown in work orders after the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Bangladesh was the sixth largest sourcing country for the US during the period though Bangladesh's position was third even a few months ago, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Exports to the US started declining when retailers from North American countries took a wait-and-see approach after the Rana Plaza disaster, said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“Buyers were also cautious in placing orders with the factories housed in shared buildings. This is the main reason behind the fall in exports,” he said.
“But, it is the current political deadlock that will harm exports the most,” Islam said. Everybody should come forward to resolve the problems so that exports remain unscathed, he added.
Exports declined not only to the US, but also to other destinations such as Canada and the Netherlands, the BGMEA president said.
On the other hand, Bangladesh's competitors are performing better in major markets.
In the US market, China remained on the top of the list with apparel exports worth $38.85 billion, followed by India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Mexico.
Apart from India and Pakistan, now Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia are becoming major competitors of Bangladesh in the US market.
“If Bangladesh's political situation does not improve soon, even Sri Lanka and Myanmar may emerge as new competitors as the two countries are performing better after overcoming their domestic political crises,” Islam said.
Previously many people used to think that buyers are bound to come to Bangladesh with handful of orders. "This is not the case anymore," he said.
“Reaching the $50-billion export target by 2021 might not be possible if the political crisis is not resolved as soon as possible,” Islam said.