The country’s largest export earning sector, ready-made garment (RMG), continued its positive growth in the just concluded year although it marginally failed to achieve the export target in last fiscal year (2016-17).
Exports from the sector also reached US$ 12 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal with a growth rate of 7.46 percent. According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh exported garment items worth about $26.40 billion during the last 11 months till November last year (2017) registering a growth of 1.38 percent.
Though the growth is not enough to achieve the government’s target of earning $50 billion by 2021, it will help substantially to increase the country’s overall export earnings. The apparel sector which contributes more than 80 percent in the total export earnings kept its growth positive over the years.
Sector insiders said that favorable US dollar-taka exchange rate has lent a helping hand to apparel exporters in maintaining the growth rate in the just concluded year.
According to the BGMEA statistics, the country fetched $28.66 billion with a7.76 percent growth rate in 2016, about $26.60 billion with 8.21 percent growth rate in 2015, $24.58 billion with a 4.61 percent growth in 2014, $23.50 billion with 18.76 percent growth in 2013 and $19.78 billion with 2.99 percent growth in 2012.
Despite scrapping GSP facilities, the USA market still remain as the single largest destination for the country’s apparel exporters while European market is the life line for the RMG makers.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Siddiqur Rahman said that the overall export growth was around 1.5 percent over the calendar year 2017.But it was over 6 percent during the last five months showing a rising trend in export growth.
“Hopefully it will continue until the end of the fiscal year 2017-18 and there is no reason to halt the growth in current fiscal year”, he said. The BGMEA president, however, said that the sector is badly needed infrastructural development to reduce the lead time. BGMEA president is quite hopeful of a bright future for apparel sector. “If the liquefied natural gas (LNG) becomes available by this year, it will be a great help in resolving the persisting energy crisis that hinders the development of the sector.
“The government has already decided to allocate special zone for the sector, which will be supportive to reduce the lead time in shipment of RMG products,” said BGMEA president. Many of foreign companies, he said, are willing to invest in the country’s RMG sector which he identified as another indicator of a thriving industry.
He said, after Rana Plaza incident in 2013, the industry faced huge challenges, among others, keeping export growth in positive which they overcome successfully.
Dr. Selim Raihan, Executive Director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), said that the export growth is good and consistent. But, it is quite ambitious to earn $50 by 2021 with the current growth rate.
“If the government wants to reach the target, the export growth should be increased to around 15 percent,” said Raihan, who is a professor at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka.