• The Daily Star

Apparel export to US falls 4.22pc

Bangladesh's garment export to the US fell in the 10 months into October this year with higher shipments from competing countries such as China, India and Vietnam.

The country's apparel shipment to its single largest export destination declined 4.22 percent year-on-year to $4.54 billion, according to data from the US Department of Commerce.

Indonesia, South Korea and China also experienced a fall to the US market.

China, the global leader in apparel exports, shipped $32.89 billion worth of garments to the US, down 0.58 percent year-on-year, according to the data.

Indonesia's export fell 2.85 percent to $4.09 billion and South Korea's 3.71 percent to $733 million.

On the other hand, India sent $6.36 billion worth of garments to the US, up 3.44 percent year-on-year. Vietnam's exports rose 7.07 percent to $10.36 billion, Pakistan's 1.74 percent to $2.31 billion and Mexico's 7.64 percent to $3.99 billion.

In the 10-month period, the overall export to the US from Bangladesh also fell, by 4.09 percent year-on-year to $4.87 billion.

Considering the garment export growth to the US, Bangladesh now stands at sixth behind China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan and Mexico whereas the country's used to be ranked third to fourth in 2016.

However, imports from the US to Bangladesh have been rising in the recent months on the back of capital machinery imports for the garment sector.

Bangladesh imported goods worth $1.31 billion from January to October, which was $905.7 million in the full year of 2016, according to the data.

Local businesspeople blame the fall in the garment exports on the lack of infrastructure which hampers quick delivery of goods to the retailers in the US.

For the international market, India has brought down apparel prices to the level of Bangladesh by launching stimulus packages for the garment sector although the labour cost in India is higher compared to Bangladesh, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

American giants GAP and Walmart, the biggest buyers for Bangladesh, have recently shifted some work orders to India because of quicker lead-times, which is also responsible for the fall in the garment exports to the US, he said.

He, however, did not specify the amount of work orders that have shifted from Bangladesh.

Rahman said Bangladesh's garment makers import a huge amount of fabrics from India and have to spend a lot of time and go through a lot of hassles for the release of goods at Benapole land port, Chittagong port and Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

“As a result, the local garment makers can't maintain the lead-time and ultimately lose the work orders from the retailers and brands. So, we need to improve the port situation to perform well in the international markets.”

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