Bangladesh’s apparel exports gained over 14 per cent in February, leaping by the numbers in receipt sum during the month after witnessing a fall. Latest data released by Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau on March 7, 2019 shows that during July-February 2019 period, total apparel exports stood at over $23.1 bn, marking an impressive gain of 14.17 per cent on a year-to-year basis. Further the individual month of February, export receipt amounted to $2.9 bn. Previously, the receipt stood $2.4 bn in January, the month of labour unrest, and $2.9 bn in December.

Over the July-February period, knitwear fetched over $11.4 bn, marking a growth of 13.5 per cent. On the other hand, woven exports fetched over $10.1 bn – a 14.8 per cent gain over the receipt during the same period in previous fiscal. For the month of February, knitwear receipt stood over $1.35 bn, what was $1.5 bn in January and $1.3 bn in December. On the other hand, woven receipt stood at over $1.55 bn, what was $1.6 bn in both January and December.

In total exports of Bangladesh, the export performance of February was $3.38 bn – a 7 per cent gain on a year-to-year basis. It showed that apparel exports accounted for over 87 per cent of the total exports of the country, which is usually around 83 per cent. The total impact of the unrest in January is expected to be laid out in the following three to six months.

Meanwhile, the garment industry has urged the US and Bangladesh to sign a cotton purchase agreement so that they could get duty privileges on export of apparel items using US cotton to American markets and ship more products. Now, it is up to the governments of both sides to take the proposal forward. Such trading arrangement in garment business had been incorporated in the now-scrapped Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement keeping Vietnam in mind. Bangladesh does not produce cotton and meets 98 per cent of the requirement through imports.

Of the imports, 40 per cent comes from India and nearly 10 per cent from the US. If the US agrees to the proposal, Bangladesh will increase the cotton import from America. The US is the single largest export destination of Bangladesh. Local apparel exporters face 15.62 per cent duty on the shipment of garment items to the country. Bangladesh exports more than $6 bn worth of products every year to the US, of which 95 per cent are garment items. Besides, the industry has also proposed that the US reinstate the generalised system of preferences, which was scrapped for Bangladesh in 2013 over poor labour rights and workplace safety.