Exports dive to six-year low | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 04, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 04, 2009

Exports dive to six-year low

Slowdown shows impact of sinking global trade


Export growth hit a six-year low of 10.31 percent in the immediate past fiscal year, evidence of an impact of global recession on the country's shipments.
In fiscal 2008-09, exports amounted to $15.8 billion, falling 4.5 percent short of the $16.3 billion target, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data released yesterday.
The slowdown in exports comes in line with the ebbing trade worldwide. The World Trade Organisation forecasts that global trade will shrink by 9 percent to 11 percent this year because of recession in developed countries.
Export earnings of neighbouring India nose-dived more than a quarter in June, marking the ninth straight month that overseas sales have fallen in the economic crisis.
Bangladesh recorded overseas sales in fiscal 2007-08 at $14.1 billion, 15.87 percent growth over fiscal 2006-07, when exports had witnessed a 15.69 percent rise.
For Bangladesh, the fiscal 2002-03 was a bleak year when export growth was only 9.39 percent, according to historical figures.
In the last fiscal year, export growth came down because only five out of 21 major export products achieved growth while another 10 items experienced negative growth in exports.
"Export growth was low last fiscal year as global recession affected shipments in the second half," said EPB Vice Chairman Shahab Ullah.
The EPB official termed growth satisfactory compared to negative export growth in many other countries. "Bangladesh has so far been able to defy the impact of the economic slump," he said.
Shahab Ullah said EPB would try to make up for the shortfall by setting the target higher by $2 billion in export earnings for the current fiscal year.
According to media reports, imports by major economies of the world, including the United States, Japan and European countries, plunged.
Despite a sluggish export performance of several major products in Bangladesh, overall exports were recorded at moderate levels, banking mainly on earnings from the woven and knitwear sectors.
Woven garments, which take up over 80 percent of the country's export basket, posted 14.5 percent growth in the last fiscal year, fetching $5.9 billion. Export figures also exceeded the $5.7 billion target by 4.13 percent in fiscal 2008-09. Earnings from the sector were $ 5.2 billion in fiscal 2007-08.
In fiscal 2008-09, the knitwear sector fetched $6.4 billion, a 16.21 percent rate of growth over the pervious year's earnings of $5.5 billion. But the sector's earnings dropped 2.35 percent short of the $6.6 billion export target.
In fiscal 2008-09, terry towels, handicraft, computer services and chemical products achieved export growth, exceeding targets.
Meanwhile, footwear, home textiles, textile fabrics and agricultural products posted growth, but fell short of targets set by the government.
Frozen food, a major export item, witnessed a 14.89 percent negative growth rate during the period, earning $ 454.53 million, while leather exports slipped 37.65 percent, earning $177.32 million.
Sajjad Zohir, executive director of Economic Research Group, said the export performance of the country was satisfactory, considering the world is gripped by recession.
"Under a holistic approach, export performance may look bad but it was good since exports of all major economies in the world shrank," he said.
Zohir urged the government to make a sector-wise appraisal of export performance and take appropriate policy measures accordingly.
According to the Bangladesh Economic Review 2009, export growth in fiscal 2005-06 was 21.63 percent, 13.83 percent in 2004-05 and 16.10 percent in 2003-04.
kawsar@thedailystar.net

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