Analysts find new bright spots for RMG exports
Bangladesh must explore alternative markets to boost garment exports in a bid to firm up its position in global trade, said analysts yesterday.
Bangladesh is the 77th largest trading nation in the world among 154 WTO member countries, said a former director of the Export Promotion Bureau. The country is also the 70th exporting and 68th importing country in world trade, said M Abdur Rahman, quoting the World Trade Organisation.
Rahman spoke at a seminar, “Exploring Market of Readymade Garments: Japan, Russia and Latin America” at EPB's Chittagong office. Abdul Main, EPB director for Chittagong, presided over the seminar where Rahman presented the keynote paper.
“The garment industry holds a unique position in the economy,” said Rahman. Bangladesh is now the biggest exporter of cotton T-shirts and stands second in exporting pullovers and jeans products to the European Union (EU) countries, he added.
Rahman said Bangladesh is the third largest knitwear exporter in the world with a share of about 6 percent.
The RMG sector contributed 78 percent of the national export earnings in fiscal 2009-10. “Robust growth of the export sector indicates that our exports would be around $22 billion at the end of the current fiscal year.”
Rahman said Bangladesh mainly exports RMG items to the US, Canada and EU countries. During the recession, Bangladesh Garment Exporters and Manufacturers Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association worked to explore new markets for RMG, he added.
"We found that Russia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Chile could be good markets for exporting RMG products,” Rahman said. After China, two countries Russia and Brazil are emerging business players in the world economy and there is huge scope to export more from Bangladesh to Brazil, he added.
Rahman said a good number of Bangladeshi citizens have settled down in Russia and are involved in international business while some of them are doing quite well. He said they may be consulted and their experience may be utilised for fostering trade links with Russia.
Rahman suggested that Bangladeshi exporters may appoint local agents or representatives in Russia to promote their products in Russia. Mexico is another free market having a trillion dollar economy, he said.
He said Mexico has bilateral free trade agreements with over 50 countries including Guatemala, Honduras, EI Salvador, the European Free Trade Area and Japan putting more than 90 percent of trade under free trade agreements. He, therefore, emphasised signing bilateral free trade agreement with Mexico immediately for promoting the RMG sector.
Chile is a market-oriented economy characterised by a high level of foreign trade and has reputed strong financial institutions and sound policies which favoured them to enjoy the strongest sovereign bond rating in the Latin American Countries, he said.
Chile has 57 bilateral or regional trade agreements, which include the European Union, China, India, South Korea and Mexico. But Bangladesh is yet to sign any bilateral trade agreement with Chile, which hampers its further progress in the exporting business, he added.
Abdul Main said 3.5 million people are working directly or indirectly in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. As Bangladesh does not produce cotton it will have to face a big challenge in the coming years in RMG business, he added.