Govt to sit with stakeholders as EU countries report fresh Covid cases

The government will sit with stakeholders in the export sectors soon to review the export market and possible impact incoming due to the spread of coronavirus in the European Union (EU) markets again, sources in the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) said.

Bangladesh sends over 50% of its exportable goods to the EU market while the USA is the single largest export destination of Bangladeshi goods.

While talking to Dhaka Tribune, a top official of the EPB said that they will meet leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), Bangladesh Leather Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association and other stakeholders to review the situation.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan also expressed his concern about the current spread of coronavirus in major EU markets.

He said that leaders of the textile and clothing sectors will sit with policy-makers of the country to review the current situation and decide the new course of action.

He further said that the readymade garment sector has started getting orders and has been on the track after overcoming the pandemic last year.

However, the current spread of coronavirus is a matter of concern to the exporters and the export may require government incentives to overcome the situation.

The coronavirus situation has deteriorated in some major EU countries like Germany, the Netherlands, France, Poland and also in the UK, which is no longer a part of the EU.

The Netherlands has returned to a partial lockdown from Saturday after the government ordered restaurants and shops to close early and barred spectators from major sporting events in an effort to contain a rapid surge in Covid-19 cases.

Germany is the largest export destination of Bangladeshi goods among EU countries. The country’s seven-day incidence rate hit a new all-time high and reached 303.0 per 100,000 inhabitants, the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Robert Koch Institute announced on Monday.

After daily infections exceeded 50,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic last week, the RKI registered 23,607 Covid-19 infections on Monday, more than 8,000 cases above last week's figure.

According to the German Intensive Care Availability Register (DIVI), the number of Covid-19 patients requiring treatment in intensive care units also kept climbing and reached 3,190 on Monday, after around 2,600 on the same day last week.

"We will contribute to making all the necessary decisions so that we can keep the infection situation well under control," said Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) ahead of coalition negotiations on Monday.

The rise of Covid-19 figures in Germany puts increasing pressure on the coalition negotiations between SPD, Greens and the liberal party FDP, which entered the final phase on Monday after first discussions in numerous working groups.

The export sector of Bangladesh suffered heavily during the April-June period of the last year as countries in the EU, Canada, Australia went under lockdown.

While talking to The Dhaka Tribune, Kazi Iftekquer Hossain, president of Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association emphasized on product diversification as the current export basket is heavily dependent on the readymade garment sector.

Quoting the World Health Organization (WHO), Kazi Iftekquer Hossain said that the world will have to live with the coronavirus pandemic during the next 3 to 4 years.

He expressed the hope that massive vaccination in importing countries will give a sigh of relief to the RMG exporting countries like Bangladesh.

He said that the textile sector of the country imports machinery worth $3 billion on an average in a year. 

During the pandemic, the import bills of buying machines plummeted to nearly $750 million.

He said textile and garment industries are highly labour intensive and profit margin has been gradually decreasing over the years as production cost has risen.

Like Eid or Puja festivals, Kazi Iftekquer Hossain said the exporters and importers also see a substantial rise in RMG products during the Christmas festival.

While expressing cautious reactions, Hossain said that exporters are also closely watching the Covid-19 situation in European Union countries as the Netherlands has announced a partial lockdown.

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