Bangladesh is losing its apparel export market share in US markets. Total export from Bangladesh to the US was $5.27 bn in 2017, down by 3.98 per cent from 2016. Of this, only $204 mn was from non-apparel products. According to the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (Otexa) data, Bangladesh’s export earnings from US saw a 4.46 per cent fall to $5.07 bn in 2017, which was $5.30 bn a year ago. According to the stakeholders, the country is facing this problem due to losing price competitiveness and lack of product diversification.
Besides, Vietnam, one of the closest competitors of Bangladesh, registered over 7 per cent growth in the US apparel market, followed by Mexico at 5.33 per cent, India at 1.19 per cent and Pakistan at 1 per cent growth in the same period.
The largest exporter of apparel products China also saw a decline in export earnings as well as market share in the US. According to Otexa, China’s export to US saw a 3.17 per cent fall, while market share came down to 33.67 per cent in 2017 from 34.69 per cent in the previous year. Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedy said, “Right now, price competitiveness is a big challenge for Bangladesh in the global markets. The production cost has gone up due to safety improvement spending as well as wage hike.” Bangladesh needs to focus more on attracting these buyers and on new foreign investment. Product diversification is urgent to retain consumers and the government should focus on increasing its support to increase the industry’s capacity, said industry experts and stakeholders.