Even as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc in many parts of the world still, many countries, especially in the West are slowly but steadily getting back to normal and Bangladesh’s single largest apparel export destination, USA, is one such, which is bouncing back strongly from the pandemic.
Thanks to the Biden administration’s relief cheques to the people and the ongoing rapid vaccination drive, the US economy is performing rather strongly — US economic growth accelerated in the first quarter as the Government gave money to mostly lower-income households, fuelling consumer spending and setting the course for what is expected to be the strongest performance this year in nearly four decades even as the GDP increased at a 6.4 per cent annualised rate in the January to March quarter, the biggest first-quarter expansion since 1984. That followed a 4.3 per cent growth rate in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters — and holds a lot of promise to help revive Bangladesh’s apparel exports, which have had to struggle very hard in the last more than a year to tackle the fallouts of the Coronavirus pandemic, which have hit exports badly.
It may be mentioned here that the US President had earlier signed into law a US $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill to begin an extensive outreach campaign as the measure includes direct payments of up to US $ 1,400 for individuals, funding for vaccine distribution and billions to help schools and colleges reopen along with numerous other measures aimed at helping America recover from the pandemic.
“I believe this… historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people of this nation – working people, middle class folks, people that built the country – a fighting chance,” Biden said, before signing the bill even as the poverty-fighting measure included in the COVID-19 relief bill passed this year will also deliver monthly payments to households including 88 per cent of children in the United States, starting in July, as the Democratic-backed American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as a response to the Coronavirus pandemic, expanded a tax credit available to most parents.
These people will get up to US $ 3,000 per child, or US $ 3,600 for each child under the age of 6, in 2021, subject to income restrictions and the benefit will reach 39 million households, many automatically and by direct deposit every month, starting on 15 July.
Meanwhile, on the vaccination front, a recent media report claimed that more than 154 million Americans, nearly 47 per cent of the population, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 119 million are fully vaccinated even as with the authorisation of the Pfizer shot for children ages 12 to 15, vaccination was expected to pick further pace.
The ongoing vaccination has boosted the confidence of consumers as they are dining out, shopping and going on holidays even as retailers have reopened stores and all these developments in the USA are apparently having a positive impact on the Bangladesh garment industry as suppliers in Bangladesh are reportedly receiving a higher number of queries for US-bound work orders.
“We are full of orders up to July,” reportedly claimed A K Azad, Managing Director of Ha-Meem Group even as Chairman of Envoy Textile, Kutubuddin Ahmed, on his part, reportedly maintained, “We are booked with orders for the next two months…,” while speaking to the media.
It may be mentioned here that Ha-Meem Group is one of the leading garment exporters and has reportedly got higher orders from US-based buyers compared to two months ago even as the US accounts for 90 per cent of the company’s garment shipment while of the total garment export from Envoy Textile, 60 per cent are destined for the US.
According to the data from the US Department of Commerce, Bangladesh exported textile and garments worth US $ 1.04 billion between January and February of 2021, down 11.80 per cent year-on-year while as per Bangladesh’s Export Promotion Bureau, it stood at US $ 4.03 billion in the July-March period of the current fiscal year, slightly down from US $ 4.37 billion recorded during the same period a year ago.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media, the Managing Director of Ha-Meem Group reportedly underlined that business of high-end brands like Nike and Banana Republic were lower as the low-income customers prefer cheaper products during crises while adding that the prices of the goods have remained almost the same as the retailers and brands were not raising them on the excuse of the fallouts of the Coronavirus pandemic even as reports claimed that demand for casualwear was higher than formal clothing and high-end, value-added suits as people spend more time indoors because of the pandemic.
“We have not returned to normalcy yet and the rebound of garment items has just begun. We hope the export of apparels to the European markets will get a boost by September,” reportedly stated Faruque Hassan, the newly-elected President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) earlier while adding that export to the US market was performing strongly.
Meanwhile, according to an article that appeared in The New York Times, it reportedly claimed that with better weather, savings accumulated during a long year of lockdown, and with an itch to make up for forced inactivity, Americans will have plenty of reasons to go out and spend even as it is being said that helped by several rounds of Government relief payments, households were sitting on a collective US $ 4.1 trillion in savings in the first quarter, up from US $ 1.2 trillion before the pandemic began.
Orders from American customers have been better lately…, reportedly claimed the BGMEA President on a positive note even as he expressed hopes that the recovery of the US economy would help the garment shipment to American markets make a turnaround.