Our overall exports grew 5.81 per cent in the outgoing fiscal year (FY18) to $36.67 bn from $34.65 bn of the fiscal year 2016-17 (FY17) riding on the higher shipment of garment products. However, the earnings are only $840 mn less than the fiscal year’s target of $37.50 bn. Like previous fiscals, the garment sector was the driving force and helped maintain the robust growth in the FY18.

According to the EPB’s latest data, both the export earnings and growth of the garment sector surpassed the target in FY18. Export of garments products registered an 8.76 per cent growth to $30.61 bn, which was 1.51 per cent higher from the fiscal’s target of $30.16 bn.

In FY17, the country earned $28.15 bn by exporting garments items. Knitwear exports rose by 10.40 per cent to $15.18 bn against the target of $15.10 bn. The country exported knit products worth $13.75 bn in FY17. Woven garments exports were up by 7.18 per cent to $15.43 bn against the target of $15.06 bn. In FY17, the export earnings from woven were $14.39 bn.

The jute and jute products witnessed a 6.56 per cent growth and the country exported jute and jute items worth $1.03 bn. Home textile items, including bed-sheets and kitchen towels, export rose by 12.15 per cent to $878.60 mn in FY18.

Our export is heavily dependent on garment products and the contribution of this sector to the export is increasing day-by-day. For achieving higher growth, we have to explore new markets along with diversification of export products with higher value addition. Meanwhile, the improvements in safety standards and workers’ rights had raised buyers’ confidence in Bangladesh’s RMG sector, which a contributing factor to the growth in exports. The increase of duty on Chinese imports by India; the trade war between China and the US may both help exports from Bangladesh.

The government should give policy support, infrastructure and incentive for diversification of export items to increase overall exports of the country. The upcoming declaration of a new wage structure, and the prices of gas may pose challenges in maintaining the growth rate in the future.