South Korea with its $10.53 billion apparel market can be a preferred export destination for Bangladesh and the apparel sector expects to hit the $1 billion mark export to Korea in the current fiscal year.
South Korea currently sources 34% of its apparel items from China, but due to rising costs, apparel production is increasingly moving out of China, and Bangladeshi entrepreneurs now have more opportunity to capture the Korean market.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), apparel shipments to the Korean market have experienced a positive growth over the past five years despite the pandemic-led slowdown, however, export earnings were only $440 million in FY22. Industry owners feel that a big push is needed to increase South Korean market share this year which will be coming from shifting orders from China, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Korean buyers and brands are also showing interest in increasing their sourcing from Bangladesh as the country can offer very competitive prices.
Considering the situation, a delegation including representatives of RMG owners, Ministry of Commerce, EPB, Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority will go on a seven-day visit to Korea on October 22 to look for new buyers and investments.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said, “We will invite big buyers and brands in Korea to source products from us. We will also offer them joint cooperation in manufacturing man-made fiber-based products.”
According to the International Trade Centre (ITC) data, South Korea’s apparel imports stood at $10.53 billion in 2021. China is the largest export source, $3.54 billion, followed by Vietnam $3.13 billion, Italy $0.752 billion and Indonesia $0.507 billion.
On the other hand, Bangladesh exported only $0.530 billion in FY2022 to Korea, of which apparel shipments amounted to $0.440 billion, according to the EPB. Korea is the country’s 20th largest export partner out of 202 destinations.
According to BGMEA, the apparel sector can export $1 billion to Korea with diversified items such as underwear, denim, shirts, jackets and pullovers as Korea has great demand for high-value winter clothing and denim. Other potential products that have good demand in the country include non-leather footwear, home textiles, jute and jute products etc.