BKMEA urges strong lobbying for South African market
The knitwear sector trade body chief in a press briefing yesterday pointed his finger at the absence of strong trade negotiations on the government's part, a setback to raising Bangladesh's capability to tap the $1.2 billion South African apparel market.
“How only two officials can handle normal activities of the Dhaka mission in Johannesburg?” questioned Fazlul Hoque, the president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
He demanded that the government immediately move to deploy a commercial counsel in Bangladesh mission in the South African capital city so that he or she can work on harnessing business potentials there.
Hoque was sharing his South Africa and Botswana trip experiences as leader of a business delegation with some journalists at the BKMEA office.
Bangladesh apparels account for only 4.3 percent of the South African $1.2 billion annual imports, while it is 70 percent from China, 5.5 percent from Mauritius and 4.7 percent from India, BKMEA chief said.
The value of Bangladesh garments that were exported to South Africa in fiscal year 2008-09 is $43 million.
While lobbying for further trade negotiations, Hoque is upbeat on the 71 percent growth in readymade garment exports to that country last fiscal.
T-shirts, sweaters, cotton trousers, basic shirts and jeans are the most-favoured items in South Africa, he said, pointing to an ample scope for textile fabric exports.
The knit sector leader named some major buying agents such as Woolworth South Africa and Edgars and Truworth.
“The present export trends show prospects for around $500 million apparel exports in the next two years,” Fazlul Hoque said.
South African buyers are now coming to Bangladesh in increased number to place more orders, he added.
Pointing to a 24 percent growth in apparel imports by South Africa on year-on-year basis, he expected at least 14 South African buyers to attend the 5th Knitexpo in Dhaka, due on November 2-4.
In this regard, Hoque identified the 51 percent tariff--40 percent duty and 14 percent value added tax (VAT)as a major problem in apparel exports to South Africa.
However, the director general of South Africa Textile Department, the BKMEA boss says, has assured them of a tariff cut on Bangladesh government's strong lobbying.
The South African key official also asked Bangladeshi businessmen during their stay in that country to prepare a list of apparel products, which the African manufacturers do not produce locally.
Bangladesh has also openings for migration of unskilled, semi-skilled and professional human resources to both South Africa and Botswana, as these countries are carrying out big economic activities, the BKMEA president said.