Bangladesh Exports robust despite global downturn in trade

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Bangladesh Exports robust despite global downturn in trade

Exports registered 7.11 percent growth in 2016 to $34.93 billion on the back of higher shipments of garment items.

The amount would have been more if the country's major export destinations had not gone through an uncertain political time in 2016, according to exporters.

Garment shipments, which typically account for 80 percent of the export earnings, brought home $28.61 billion last year, up 7.89 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.

“Our exports grew even amid the volatile condition around the world, so we are hopeful that it will perform even better in 2017,” said Faruque Hassan, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

In 2016, the unit price of garment items decreased by 2 percent year-on-year and the depreciation of the pound as a result of the UK's shock decision to withdraw from the European Union on June 23, 2016 affected the receipts.

The UK is the third largest export destination for Bangladesh after the US and Germany. Bangladesh typically ships more than $3 billion worth of garment products to the UK in a year.

With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the election of Donald J Trump as the 45th president of the US, and the scheduled polls in Germany and France, the outlook does not look too promising.

Hassan said it is not a major cause of concern as exports to new destinations have been on the rise as a result of relaxation of the Rules of Origin.

For instance, some Asian markets such as Japan, China and India are showing good promise, he said, adding that exports to Japan have already crossed the $1 billion mark in 2016. “Our export growth is going in the right direction.”

The apparel industry must address the issues of gas and power shortage, market diversification, access to new markets and political stability for achieving the targeted export growth in 2017, the BGMEA vice-president added.

However, 2016 ended on a somewhat dismal note, as exports slid 3.11 percent in the month of December from a year earlier.

In December, exports raked in $3.11 billion, which also missed the month's target of $3.35 billion.

Garments raked in $2.58 billion last month, down 3.73 percent year-on-year.