At a time when the country’s apparel exports are going through a negative growth, shipment of home textile products rose sharply amid the ongoing pandemic defying all odds.
As per Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, during the July-January period of the current fiscal year 2020-21, Bangladesh earned $639 million, up by 44.34% compared to $443 million in the same period of last fiscal year. In the FY20, the sector brought $759 million home.
On the other hand, exports earnings from the RMG sector fell 3.44% to $18.40 billion during July-January of the FY21, which was $19 billion in the same period of last year.
Of the total earnings, bed, kitchen toilet lines earned $305 million, which was $267 million in the same period last year. Other products earned $334 million.
Home textile products include bed linen, bed sheet and other bedroom textiles, bath linen, carpets and rugs, blankets, kitchen linen, curtains, cushions and cushion cover and covers for quilts.
As per the data, the United States of America imported home textile products worth $156 million, the highest, followed by Germany 68.5 million, India $60 million, United Kingdom $58 million and Canada $48 million.
Why home textile exports rose
“The sales of clothing products fell in retail stores in the European and American markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, exports of apparel goods also declined but the shipments of home textile increased,” said Rashed Mosharraf, General Manager for Marketing and Head of Operations of Zaber & Zubair Fabrics.
This is because of the rise of demands fueled by increased use of the items. As the pandemic restricted people’s movement across the world, they stayed longer at home and joined the office from home to avert infection of the COVID-19 virus.
As a result, the usage of home-wearing products and bedsheets, towels and others went up, which helped to gain even amid the pandemic, said.
Since Bangladesh has quality products at affordable prices, exporters have been able to take the advantage of higher demands, he added.
“We have strong backward linkage for the home textile sector and manufacturers are capable of meeting the demands of raw materials from domestic sources. That is why, amid the pandemic, the supply chain here in Bangladesh was not disrupted fully,” Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) president Mohammad Ali Khokon.
However, the rise in cotton price is a threat to sustaining growth. For the sake of the sector the buyers should adjust the prices of products already placed as the cost of raw materials went up, he added.
“While the apparel exports were in sliding mode amid the pandemic, the rise in exports earnings from home textile is inspiring for the exporters. The growth is very significant for Bangladesh’s economy and it needs to retain for sustainable export-led growth,” Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem told Textile Today.
In the present context, it is clear that a diversified export basket will be very crucial for the development of our economy which is reflected during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, said the economist.
The government should revisit its policy towards the promising sector to diversify the export basket and to reduce dependency on few items, said Moazzem.
On the other hand, manufacturers should explore new areas to sustain the growth and focus should be given on non-traditional markets, he added.
“The growth is laudable and the credit goes to our resilient entrepreneurs, who are very passionate and dedicated towards the development of the sector,” M Shahadat Hossain, Chairman of Bangladesh Terry Towel and Linen Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BTTLMEA) told Textile Today.
But exporters are facing tough competition in the global markets as our rivals are enjoying extra benefits due to their weakening currency against the US dollar, said the trade leader.
Our currency gains against the US dollar, while our competitors’ currencies are devalued. So the government should think about it or offer a special rate for the exporters, he added.