Vietnam surpassed Bangladesh to be the second-highest apparel exporter in the world in 2020 as the country kept the COVID-19 pandemic in control and let factories operate.
At the same time, Bangladesh’s apparel shipment declined by 18 percent year-on-year to $28 billion last year as the pandemic forced it to shut garment factories for almost a month, according to a report of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Garment exports from Vietnam also dropped in 2020. It declined by 6 percent to $29 billion, said the World Trade Statistical Review 2021 released on Friday.
As a result, Vietnam moved to the second spot after China, pushing Bangladesh to the third.
China, which also registered a decline in export, shipped apparel worth $142 billion in 2020.
Bangladesh’s share in the global apparel trade declined to 6.3 percent last year from 6.8 percent in 2019.
Vietnam’s share rose to 6.4 percent from 6.2 percent. China also made gains.
Vietnam has been widely praised for its public health measures that quickly brought numbers under control.
Since the beginning of the COVID spread, Vietnam acted rapidly and decisively, sealing its borders to almost all travelers except returning citizens, according to the BBC.
Faruque Hassan, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told, he is hopeful Bangladesh will soon regain the second position.
Readymade garment (RMG) factories in Bangladesh were closed in April last year. As a result, the country’s overall export earnings plunged to a record low of $0.52 billion that month. The apparel shipment, which accounts for about 85 percent of the national exports, was $0.37 billion.
Bangladesh lost $6 billion in exports in 2020 because of the closure of factories during the shutdown, said BGMEA Vice-President Md Shahidullah Azim.
In addition, Vietnam focused on its non-cotton garment items for which it received premium prices from international buyers.
On the other hand, Bangladesh is strong in producing cotton items and receives lower prices. Of the total garment export from the country, 74 percent is cotton-made.
Faruque Hassan said, “We have launched our innovation center to overcome our limitations in research on markets and product development so that we can perform better in the global garment trade.”
To capitalize on synthetic-based apparel production Bangladesh has also started investing in non-cotton items to grab more market share and get premium prices.
AK Azad, Managing Director of Ha-Meem Group, one of the biggest apparel exporters of Bangladesh, said the gain made by Vietnam is temporary.
“As major infrastructures are being readied,” he said, citing the ongoing construction of the economic zones.”