Sweater, a sub-sector of the apparel sector, has seen a sharp growth in the last fiscal year, thanks to prolonged winter in the western world. According to latest data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), in the fiscal year 2017-18, Bangladesh earned $3.67 billion, which is 9.32% higher compared to the $3.36 billion it earned in FY16-17 in sweater export.
Sweater has contributed 11.98% to overall readymade garment exports of $30.62 billion. In the Fiscal Year 2017-18, Bangladesh’s export earnings from the apparel sector have seen an 8.76% growth to 30.61 billion. While, the country’s total, exports earnings rose to $36.66 billion in the same period.
Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of clothing products, has a huge opportunity in increasing exports of sweater products, as it is upgrading technology.
While the global demand is increasing due to expanded winter in the Western world. On top of that, Bangladesh offers quality products at an affordable price. These have pushed the export earnings from the sector up.
“In the recent years, Bangladeshi sweater manufacturers made a huge investment to upgrade machinery to move for automation. As a result, Bangladesh’s sweater production capacity, as well as workers’ productivity, have increased,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Vice President Mohammed Nasir said the Textile Today.
On top of that, the winter season in the western countries has expanded due to global climate change. It has increased demands of winter clothing products. So, it brings blessing to Bangladeshi sweater manufacturers, said Nasir.
Meanwhile, China’s business relocation and rise in wages have brought more work orders in Bangladesh.
“If you look into the recent export trend of clothing products of China, it is losing its market share in the global markets. Since the workers’ wages in China is increasing, manufacturers are shifting their businesses to include higher-end products, and buyers are searching for new sourcing destinations,” Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedy said Textile Today.
So, the business shifting from China has created an enormous opportunity for Bangladesh that has quality products at a reasonable price, Salam said, also a Former President of BGMEA.
In reaping the benefits of China, AB Mirza Azizul Islam, a trade analyst and economist, asked the manufacturers to move for diversification of products and making new investment on product development.
He also urged the government to take measures in exploring new markets. On the other hand, manufacturers have to identify the new products, which are being left by the Chinese manufacturers.
Barriers to grow
Despite having a sound growth, there is more room to grow. However, there are also challenges, which is hindering the prospects of the emerging sub-sector.
Exports earnings from sweater even could be more, if there are no barriers such as port congestion, delayed delivery and transportation hindrance,” Target Group Managing Director, Azharul Islam said the Textile Today.
Talking to the sector people opined that as a sub-sector of RMG, sweater industry can contribute over $8 billion to meet Bangladesh’s export target of $50 billion by 2021, said Islam.
He urged Bangladesh government to increase port capacity to reduce lead-time.
“Bangladesh has good quality product at a reasonable price. But there is a shortage of raw materials to produce high-end goods, technical expertise,” said Md Moshiul Azam Shajal, Managing Director of Posmi Sweaters.
To remove these barriers, we need a stable and long-term policy to ensure the business-friendly atmosphere in the country, he added.