According to recently released data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) showed between July and March of the present fiscal year, Bangladesh received $23.48 billion from readymade garment (RMG) shipments, which was only 2.55% lower than earnings from the items in the equivalent period last fiscal year.
Of the total RMG export earning items, US$12.65 billion came from knitwear which also registered a 5.85 percent growth year-on-year while earnings from woven shipments were $10.83 billion, which declined by 10.83 percent year-on-year.
While the demand for woven items deteriorated for a slump in many formal occasions worldwide in the time of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
The outgoing president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Rubana Huq called the July-March export earnings from RMG shipment ‘depressing’.
Huq said RMG exports started getting affected since the 1st wave of COVID-19 hit the country in March 2020.
Rubana Huq elaborated that a year-over-year comparison of monthly exports between 2020 and 2021 would be deceptive and any progress in apparel export for the months of 2021 has to be calculated with the corresponding months of 2019.
After the 3rd quarter of fiscal 2020-21, apparel export earnings stood at $23.49 billion which was $25.95 billion during the same period of FY2018-19, indicating a 9.49% or $2.46 billion deterioration.
Meanwhile, knitwear items export struggled to retain 0.35 percent growth in March 2021 over March 2019; the average progress of knitwear export for July-March 2020-21 than July-March 2018-19 is 1.15 percent in the negative.
While the woven garments export is witnessing the hardest time ever. Export suffering double-digit drops since August 2020, and in March 2021 compared to March 2019 woven export dropped by 27.70 percent.
The 9-month average growth between 2021 and 2019 stands 17.62% in the negative.
The price trend endures deteriorating as March 2021 posts a 5.11 percent drop in unit price compared to March 2019. The average decline in unit price for July-March 2020-21 compared to July-March 2018-19 is 3.58 percent in the negative.
Huq stressed that “Such repeated declines in unit price do not need additional analysis to comprehend the scale of helplessness the RMG industry is dwelling with. The export markets are still struggling to contain the spread of the virus, the 3rd wave has only added to the woes.”
“Until recently Bangladesh was faring well in containing the infection; however the present lockdown, which is a timely move by the government, would further impact the already depressed performance of the industry,” Huq told.
The data also depicted that in the July-March period, the overall apparel export earnings was $28.93 billion, a decline of only 0.12% year-on-year. Though, the July-March earnings from overall shipments is 4.43 percent below the periodic target of $30.27 billion.