Apparel exports to Japan, Bangladesh’s most promising export destination in Asia, dipped 3.88 percent in fiscal year 2016-17, for which exporters blame mainly on the terrorist attack in Gulshan last year that killed seven Japanese nationals. However Bangladesh’s garment rival Vietnam also posing good potentials for Japanese importers and so businesses were moving to them as well.
According to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), exports of garment products to the far-eastern nation whose apparel market is worth about $40 billion a year raked in $744.47 million last fiscal year.
“The slowdown in shipment growth to Japan is temporary”, said Tareq Rafi Bhuiyan, secretary general of Japan Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, adding that Japanese retailers have once again started coming to the country to place orders.
Garment shipments to Japan from Bangladesh began after the adoption of ‘China Plus One’ policy by the Japanese government in 2008 to reduce overdependence on China for goods like apparel, electronic gadgets and home appliances.
The ‘China plus One’ policy was supplemented by the relaxation of the Rules of Origin by Japanese government for least-developed countries, which worked in Bangladesh’s favour. Bangladeshi garment manufacturers have been enjoying zero-duty benefit on apparel exports to Japan even if the raw materials were imported.
“We have to work a lot to grab more market share in Japan”, said Syed Mohammad Tanvir, director of Pacific Jeans, a leading garment exporter. Overall exports to Japan also declined 5.6 percent to $1.01 billion in fiscal 2016-17.
Japan is the only destination in Asia where Bangladesh’s overall exports crossed the $1 billion mark in each of the previous two years.
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