RMG EXPORT EARNINGS GROW 5% DESPITE ALL ODDS IN 2014
Ibrahim Hossain Ovi
‘Export earnings will start to grow in the first quarter of the next year, as a number of new factories will contribute to the export basket from the next year’
Despite several challenges faced by the apparel industry, export earnings from the RMG sector rose by nearly 5% to US$22.25bn in January-November this year compared to the same period last year.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh fetched $22.25bn in 11 months of 2014, which was $21.22bn in the previous year.
The knitwear export during the period stood at $11bn with a rise of 6.723% from the previous year’s $10.4bn. Woven products earned $11.15bn growing at 3.05% as the previous year’s figure was $10.8bn, EPB data showed.
“The ready-made garment export has witnessed slow growth this year as it witnessed belated impacts of Accord and Alliance’s inspection coupled with political unrest, but this growth was expected and realistic,” Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB), told the Dhaka Tribune.
“Bangladesh needs to wait two to three more years to get the robust growth as some of the factories are still facing the challenges,” said Salam, also former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He said the next year will be a challenging one as remediation work is still underway.
In 2013, Bangladesh’s RMG sector faced several accidents, including the deadliest Rana Plaza collapse, which killed over 1,135 workers, intensified political violence and repeated labour unrests. These incidents has also affected the sector in 2014.
According to the BGMEA, a good number of factories has faced music from the Accord and Alliance inspection over non-compliance issues regarding workers safety, causing adverse impact on the export earning.
After the Rana Plaza disaster, a total of 220 small and medium factories faced shutdown while Accord and Alliance closed 29 factories following their inspection.
The RMG manufactures and exporters, however, expected bright days for the apparel industry in the new year.
“Export earnings will start to grow in the first quarter of the next year, as a number of new factories will contribute to the export basket from the next year,” BGMEA Vice President Shahidullah Azim told the Dhaka Tribune.
Azim, however, put importance on infrastructural development to cope up with the new production demand saying infrastructure deficit, if not improved, might hamper the supply chain in the country, causing sluggish growth.
“Bangladesh is losing competitiveness in the global market while our competitors are getting stronger due to the government’s extended support,” said Azim.
To be more competitive, Bangladeshi RMG sector also needs cash incentives and policy support from the government, he said. BGMEA has set an export target of $50bn by 2021 to mark the 50 years of Bangladesh Independence.
Bangladesh government has set an export target of $26.9bn from the RMG sector for the fiscal year 2014-15.
As per BGMEA data, over 40 lakh workers are employed in the industry and 80% of them are women mostly from the rural area.
DECEMBER 28, 2014