RMG export earnings contribution to national export declined in 2020

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Bangladesh’s economic backbone, its readymade garment (RMG) manufacturing export earnings, which typically contributes 84% to the national exports, dropped 2.99% to $15.54 billion, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Figure: The overall garment export observed an extraordinary 16.94% year-on-year drop in 2020.

On top of it amid the COVID-19 pandemic disaster, the overall garment export observed an extraordinary 16.94% year-on-year drop in 2020.

Rubana Huq, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said, “Given the effects of the lockdowns in Europe and the US and their impact on retail and demand, the worst-ever Christmas sales, and the effect of price decline, it was a dark year for the industry.”

Of the export earnings, knitwear shipment earned $8.52 billion, up 3.9% from a year ago. While woven exports declined 10.22% to $7.01 billion.

Amid this negative scenario, the knitwear export rose as consumers mostly wear casual dresses as they stay and work from home because of the COVID-19 crisis.

EPB data also showed that apparel export was down 9.64% in December as the pandemic continues to pound the global economy.

Last month, woven garment export showed the worst performance since June plunging 18.07%. While knitwear export fell 0.45%.

“As the fears and stresses instigated by the second wave continue tied with the fairly poor administration and absence of vaccines, and the impact on international economy it would leave, this downtrend in RMG exports will probably continue until April,” Huq added.

Mohammad Hatem, Senior Vice-President of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), more extended homestay by people for the higher export of knitwear items.

Hatem told the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ knitwear items prices were lower compared to those in other apparel manufacturing countries.

“As an outcome, fashion buyers have continued their business with Bangladesh even during the pandemic. Though in knitwear items case, the shorter lead time is a key factor, Mohammad Hatem added.

As for sourcing raw materials for knitwear items were not a hassle for the local manufacturers as these are available locally. Whereas the majority of raw materials required to produce woven garments, traders need to depend on imports.

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