Notwithstanding the efforts towards product diversification, Bangladesh readymade garment industry is predominantly dependent on 5 product categories for exports, it seems.
As per reports, a staggering 61 per cent of Bangladesh’s total apparel exports is made up of shirts, trousers, jackets, T-shirts and sweaters. In financial year 2018-19, Bangladesh’s total export earning stood at US $ 40.53 billion, of which RMG’s contribution was US $ 34.13 billion.
Of the US $ 34.13 billion earned by the RMG sector, around US $ 24.90 billion came in from these 5 products.
Of these 5, T-shirt alone accounted for US $ 7.01 billion export in the last fiscal year. On the other hand, the export of trousers marked an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous fiscal to record US $ 6.94 billion in exports last year.
Overall, in last 5 years, the export of trousers increased by US $ 1.25 billion.
The third highest exported apparel item is that of jacket. For the past 3 years, the export of jackets has been shooting up considerably with jackets worth US $ 4.38 billion being exported during the last financial year, while the export of sweaters was US $ 4.25 billion, which was 15.80 per cent higher than the previous year.
As far as shirt is concerned, Bangladesh exported shirts worth US $ 2.32 billion in the last fiscal year, recording an increase of 12.62 per cent from what was US $ 2.06 billion in the previous financial year.
The industry, however, seems to be divided on the so-called overdependence on these 5 products, as of its prospects are concerned going forward.
“Shirts, trousers, jackets, T-shirts and sweaters are our big assets. These products also have the opportunity to add value. Cheap T-shirts also become expensive through the use of diverse fabrics and designs,” said Vice President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Faisal Samad while speaking to the media.
He further added “In addition to regular research on product development, we also have to track the market trend.”
However, Managing Director of Classic Group, Shahidullah Azim, has a different opinion on this.
“The dependence on just 5 items is not good for the garment industry. In order to make export of readymade garments sustainable, the export of cheap and high value products has to be balanced. Some of our entrepreneurs have started producing value-added products. More foreign entrepreneurs have to be brought in to keep it up,” maintained Shahidullah.