Exports of Bangladeshi products to non-traditional markets are on the rise, showing an encouraging sign for the country’s efforts towards diversification of export destinations, according to data of Export Promotion Bureau. Bangladesh considers ‘non-traditional markets’ all countries except its key export destinations, such as the EU, the US, the UK and Canada. India, China, Russia, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand are among the major non-traditional markets for Bangladeshi products. The country has also secured zero-duty benefits on exports of goods to markets in Japan, India, and China. Such trade privileges helped Bangladesh boost its exports to these non-traditional markets.

EPB data show that during the first four months of the current 2018-19 fiscal year, export earnings from the non-traditional markets soared substantially compared to the same period of last FY. During the July-October period, exports to Japan stood at $464.95 mn, up from $333 mn in the same period last FY. Exports to India almost doubled as the country fetched $469 mn during the July-October period this year, up from $226 mn a year ago. In the first four months of the current FY, exports to China soared to $299 mn from $224 mn during the same period last FY while exports to Australia jumped to $281 mn from $231 mn. Exporters shipped goods worth $133 mn to Russia in the July-October period against $127 mn last FY, $59 mn to Brazil against $52 mn, $135 mn to South Korea against $75 mn, and $89 mn to Malaysia against $65 mn.

Though the country’s export growth remains steady, sector insiders said the potential of exports to non-traditional markets has remained untapped. Despite having a huge potential to gain more share in the new export destinations, Bangladesh is not being able to grab this opportunity in India, China and Latin American countries, they said. “In addition to the traditional export destinations, Bangladesh is slowly entering the emerging markets like China, India, Japan, Russia, Turkey and Latin America. This is indeed is good news for the country’s export sector,” BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman said. He also said Bangladesh still has a long way to go as opportunities in most of the export destinations still remain untapped. The BGMEA President said the government is working closely with the private sector to foster diversification of export destinations. Bangladesh Engineering Industries Owners’ Association (BEIOA) President Abdur Razzaque said Bangladesh’s export sector is still dependant on few sectors—apparel, leather, jute, frozen foods. “There is no alternative to product diversification to help reap the potential of new export markets,” he said. The global market is being more competitive than ever as the buyers’ choice is changing constantly and Bangladesh should prepare for this challenge and focus on new products and new markets, Razzaque added. The government has been providing cash incentives on exports to emerging markets to help the exporters enter and sustain in new export destinations.