Bangladesh’s garment exports set to experience robust boom

Ukraine conflict, Bangladesh, Russia-Ukraine

In a remarkable turn of events, the garment export sector in Bangladesh is poised to experience a robust resurgence, marking a significant turnaround from the multifaceted challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As the global economy exhibits signs of recovery, international buyers are increasingly reaching out to suppliers in Bangladesh, signaling a potential rebound in exports, anticipated to gain substantial momentum from the onset of May onwards.

The export data for the current fiscal year already showcases positive growth trends. During the period spanning from July to January of 2023-24, garment exports from Bangladesh witnessed a commendable uptick of 3.45 percent year-on-year, reaching a substantial value of $28.36 billion, as reported by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). This upward trajectory not only signifies a recovery but also hints at a promising outlook for the sector in the upcoming months.

Matthew Shay, the esteemed president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF) in the US, underscored the remarkable resilience of retailers following a successful holiday season. With sales growth projected at a solid 3 percent to 4 percent, the retail sector reflects a more sustainable pace of expansion compared to the tumultuous years influenced by the pandemic. Shay emphasized that this growth serves as a testament to retailers’ adeptness in adapting to evolving consumer expectations, indicative of the underlying strength of the US economy.

The increasing influx of inquiries from international retailers and brands, particularly from Europe and the US, serves as a telling indicator of the potential export revival, as noted by Md Fazlul Hoque, the managing director of Plummy Fashions Ltd., based in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. While Hoque expresses optimism regarding the revival of exports from May onwards, he acknowledges the possibility of a more gradual recovery rather than a dramatic surge.

Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury, a former president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), echoes similar sentiments, citing a noticeable uptick in inquiries from retailers and brands. He anticipates that work orders will gain momentum around April or May, potentially reinstating export levels to pre-pandemic norms. This optimism is underpinned by the recovering economies of major export destinations such as Europe and the US, which are gradually emerging from the global economic slowdown and grappling with historic inflationary pressures.

Despite cautious optimism prevailing in the market, major European buyers remain cautiously optimistic. While they may not significantly increase work orders, there is a consensus that reducing orders is not on the agenda, thus maintaining a stable outlook for Bangladesh’s garment exports.

Shafiur Rahman, the regional operations manager of G-Star, a prominent Dutch designer clothing company, forecasts a potential revival commencing from June, aligning with projections from international retailers and brands. Rahman anticipates that 2025 holds promise for the garment business, buoyed by the resurgence of the global economy.

According to industry insiders, the imminent increase in garment shipments is attributed to several factors. The decline in inflation in Western markets coupled with increased consumer spending has created a conducive environment for garment exports. Moreover, the surge in inquiries from buyers underscores the growing demand for goods from Bangladesh, further bolstering export prospects.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan emphasizes the reduction of old inventories following heightened sales during the festive season, particularly around Christmas. As stores streamline their stock of clothing items, retailers and brands are actively placing work orders, thus driving the momentum of garment exports.

Mr. Faruque highlights the diversified market and product strategies adopted by local manufacturers and suppliers, which have positioned them favorably in the global market. Furthermore, investments in compliance and sustainability initiatives have enhanced the sector’s reputation, instilling confidence among buyers sourcing garment items from Bangladesh.

As Bangladesh’s garment exports prepare to soar to new heights in 2024, the industry stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its stakeholders in the face of adversity. With a renewed sense of optimism and determination, the nation’s garment sector is set to emerge stronger from the ashes of past challenges, charting a course towards a brighter and more prosperous future.


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