The total export earnings are close to the government’s target of $37 billion during FY2017-18
Overall export earnings of Bangladesh have achieved a 5.8% rise—to $36.66 billion at the conclusion of the last fiscal year.
According to the provisional data by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), during FY2017-18, of the total export earnings, the RMG sector – the largest foreign currency earner in the country – has amassed about $30.60 billion—8.7% higher compared to the $28.15 billion of the previous fiscal year.
The total export earnings are close to the government’s target of $37 billion during FY2017-18. The government has set their export earnings target at $40 billion from goods.
While talking to the Dhaka Tribune about the recent increase in export earnings, manufacturers attributed the improved safety precautions in the RMG sector as the catalyst for restoring buyers’ confidence—which in turn drove the growth of the apparel sector forward.
They also said the support of government policies helped to improve the safety standard of the apparel sector.
“Credit goes to the entrepreneurs,” said Vice-President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Md Nasir. “They were the ones who took initiative and spent a huge sum to complete all safety remediation, which restored buyers’ confidence in Bangladeshi products.”
However, economists think the export growth target of achieving $50 billion from the RMG sector will not be achieved at this pace.
“The growth is better than the previous years,” former Finance Advisor to the Caretaker government AB Mirza Azizul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune. “But it is not yet aligned to the government’s vision of 2021.”
In the FY2016-17, Bangladesh’s overall export earnings were $34.65 billion—a 1.68% rise from the $34.25 billion in FY2015-16. This was the lowest growth in the last 15 years.
In order to attain the targeted export growth, Bangladesh has to identify problems that act as bottlenecks for the country’s export potential—and has to take effective measures to tackle them, thinks the former financial advisor.
Azizul suggested product and market diversification to overcome the challenges. He also advocated for better R&D in a move to shift to value added products, as they can increase export earnings.
On the other hand, manufacturers, to meet the export target, want an end to the energy crisis to boost production capacity.
Meanwhile, BGMEA vice-president Nasir said: “Increasing production capacity is a must for increasing export earnings. But due to a lack of gas connections, new entrepreneurs, as well as existing businessmen, are finding it difficult to achieve production.”
Nasir added: “We ask for the government’s support in ending the gas crisis by ensuring a supply to these factories through Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), at an affordable price.”
Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedy said: “We are expecting double-digit growth in the current fiscal year, as global retailers are confident Bangladesh now has the capacity for a safe workplace.”
But losing the competitive edge in the global market is a concern for the country; it needs to be addressed by offering policy support to lower production costs, he further said.