Bangladesh overtakes China as top UK apparel exporter


In a remarkable turn of events, Bangladesh has emerged as a formidable competitor to China in the race to become the top exporter of readymade garments (RMG) to the United Kingdom. According to recent reports citing UK government data, Bangladesh surpassed China four times between January and November of the previous year, reclaiming the top position in the UK apparel market. This changing landscape highlights Bangladesh’s resilience and competitiveness, driven by factors such as pricing strategies and sustained volume exports.

The data reveals that Bangladesh displaced China as the leading apparel exporter to the UK in January, March, April, and May of the previous year. Despite being the second-largest apparel exporter in terms of value, Bangladesh maintained its supremacy as the top RMG exporter to the UK in terms of volume since 2022, closely followed by China. This strategic advantage has solidified Bangladesh’s position in the UK market, signaling a potential long-term shift in trade dynamics.

During January-November period of the previous year, the overall apparel imports by the United Kingdom experienced a decline, attributed to inflationary pressures. Despite the challenging economic environment, Bangladesh managed to increase its market share due to competitive pricing strategies. The report suggests that the share of Bangladesh’s exports rose in the UK market, emphasizing the resilience of its garment industry in adapting to changing global economic conditions.

According to the UK government factsheet on Bangladesh, the country’s apparel exports to the United Kingdom fell by 11.58 percent, amounting to £2.63 billion during the specified period. In comparison, China experienced a more significant decline, with a 22.93 percent drop in apparel imports to the UK, totaling £2.83 billion. This downturn in China’s exports contributed to Bangladesh’s successful challenge for the top position, demonstrating the adaptability and competitiveness of Bangladesh’s garment industry.

United Kingdom witnessed an 18 percent year-on-year decline in the value of overall apparel imports during the 11-month period, coupled with a 13.67 percent decrease in volume. This decline can be attributed to a variety of factors, including global economic challenges, supply chain disruptions, and the impact of inflation on consumer spending. However, within this challenging context, Bangladesh’s ability to maintain and increase its market share underscores its resilience and appeal to UK retailers and consumers.

While the value of Bangladesh’s apparel exports to the United Kingdom experienced a decline, the volume of exports remained robust. This strategic approach, focusing on maintaining a significant presence in the market in terms of volume, allowed Bangladesh to secure its position as the top RMG exporter to the UK. This distinction between volume and value highlights the nuanced strategies employed by Bangladesh to navigate the complexities of the global textile trade.

In terms of volume, Bangladesh’s clothing exports to the United Kingdom declined by 10 percent year-on-year during the 11-month period. However, this dip was relatively modest compared to the 14.28 percent year-on-year drop in China’s apparel exports by volume to the UK during the same period. Other key players in the global apparel market, including Turkey, Pakistan, and Cambodia, also experienced declines of 27.5 percent, 12.65 percent, and 16.48 percent year-on-year, respectively. This indicates that Bangladesh’s performance was comparatively resilient, positioning it as a reliable and competitive partner for the UK.

The decline in UK apparel imports extended beyond China, affecting other major exporting nations. India and Vietnam, two prominent players in the global textile industry, saw their apparel exports to the United Kingdom decrease by 12.53 percent and 16.48 percent year-on-year, respectively. This widespread decline among major exporting nations underscores the challenges faced by the industry as a whole, making Bangladesh’s achievements even more noteworthy.

Several factors have contributed to Bangladesh’s success in the UK apparel market. Competitive pricing, a well established garment industry, and a commitment to volume exports have been key elements. Bangladesh’s strategic advantage in terms of both cost and volume has allowed it to weather the economic challenges faced by the industry, positioning it as a preferred sourcing destination for UK retailers.

One of the critical factors driving Bangladesh’s success is its ability to offer competitive prices in the global market. As inflationary pressures impact consumer spending patterns, the affordability of garments becomes a decisive factor for consumers and retailers alike. Bangladesh’s garment industry, known for its cost effectiveness, has capitalized on this demand, leading to an increase in market share in the UK. This emphasis on competitive pricing has not only contributed to its success in challenging China but has also positioned Bangladesh favorably amidst a competitive landscape.

In the COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains, leading to disruptions in the production and distribution of goods. In this context, Bangladesh’s garment industry has showcased resilience and adaptability, overcoming challenges to meet the demands of the UK market. The ability to maintain a steady supply chain has been crucial in securing its position as a reliable exporter of ready-made garments.

The success of Bangladesh’s garment industry can also be attributed to proactive government initiatives and collaboration within the industry. Policies supporting the growth of the textile sector, infrastructure development, and measures to enhance the ease of doing business have created a conducive environment for the industry to thrive. Additionally, collaboration between the government and industry stakeholders has played a pivotal role in addressing challenges and fostering sustained growth.

While Bangladesh’s achievements in the UK apparel market are commendable, the industry still faces challenges that need attention. Rising production costs, environmental concerns, and the need for technological advancements are areas that require strategic focus. Additionally, the industry can explore opportunities for diversification and innovation to stay ahead in an evolving global market.

Bangladesh’s emergence as the leading apparel exporter to the United Kingdom, surpassing China multiple times in 2023, is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its garment industry. The strategic focus on competitive pricing and maintaining volume exports has allowed Bangladesh to navigate challenges in the global textile market successfully. As the industry continues to evolve, Bangladesh’s position as a reliable and cost-effective sourcing destination for the UK underscores the strength of its garment sector. The dynamic shift in leadership signals a new era for Bangladesh in the global textile trade, with implications for the broader landscape of international commerce.


  1. Bangladesh’s economy and export earnings shall continue to advance towards much accomplishments. For this, we need political stability.


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