As per Bangladesh Customs' data on daily exports compiled by BGMEA, the country recorded about 51 per cent growth in apparel exports during the first 19 days of the current month, compared to the same period last year. From August 1-19, Bangladesh exported apparels worth $2,048 million as against $1,359 million worth of apparels exported during the corresponding period in 2019.
Experts and apparel entrepreneurs linked the growth to restoration of a large part of cancelled orders and zero disruptions to shipments during the Eid holidays. Md Shahidullah Azim, Managing Director, Classic Group, says, about 75-80 per cent cancelled orders have returned to factories. During March-May period, export orders worth $3.18 billion were cancelled and withdrawn, according to the BGMEA. As a result, the RMG sector in April witnessed the lowest ever exports of $375 million. At the end of fiscal year 2019-20, apparel exports declined to $27.95 billion from $34.13 billion in the previous fiscal year.
At present, most apparel makers are focusing on clearing their backlogs besides honoring new orders. European Union markets are also coming back to life despite the threat of a second wave of COVID-19, adds Arshad Jamal Dipu, Chairman, Tusuka Group, adding that stores in Europe are reopening and online sales too are enjoying high growth.
Buying capacity in the US remains unchanged due to some stimulus packages undertaken by the country's government, he added. Western economies are gradually turning around with more new orders likely to be placed, says Ahsan H Mansur, Executive Director, Policy Research Institute. Buyers have already placed new orders and the result may be reflected in two months, he predicts.
On the other hand, a number of buyers are shifting from China to Vietnam and Bangladesh, due to the prevailing tension between Washington and Beijing, China is also moving to high value apparel due to a workers' wage hike. If Bangladesh can grasp one to two percent of the Chinese share by diverting those orders to the country, it will be a big jump for the apparel industry, adds Mansur.