The Covid-19 situation in the US has somewhat come under control following mass vaccinations. Many restrictions have been relaxed. People have increased shopping too. As a result, export of readymade garments has risen to the US from various countries.
The US still has been reporting more than 12,000 new cases of coronavirus with 300 to 400 deaths daily.
Buyers and brands in the US imported apparel products worth $21.26 billion (2,126 crore) from various countries in the first four months (January-April) of 2020. Imports rose by 8 per cent to $23.07 billion (2,307 crore) in same period of 2021.
Exports from China and Vietnam have increased during this span of time whereas Bangladesh couldn’t take advantage of the situation. On the contrary. its exports have declined.
The US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) released the latest data. The US import of apparel products dropped by 23.43 per cent to $64.07 billion (6,407 crore) in 2020.
According to OTEXA, Bangladesh exported apparel products worth about $2 billion (199.79 crore) or Tk 169.82 billion (16,982 crore) to the US in the first four months of 2021, that is a 3.71 per cent fall comparing to the corresponding period of the previous year.
Bangladesh is the third largest apparel exporter to the US after China and Vietnam.
China’s export to the US, however, rose significantly. Its export of ready-made garments rose by 19.86 per cent year-on-year to $4.66 billion (466 crore) in January-April of 2021.
On the other hand, Vietnam exported apparel worth about $4.55 billion (455 crore) to the US in January-April of 2021, which is 8.91 per cent higher than the export earnings of $4.18 billion (418 crore) in the corresponding period of the previous year.
Vietnam shares 19.65 per cent of the US ready-made garment market while Bangladesh shares only 7.82 per cent.
According to the OTEXA, like Bangladesh, export of ready-made garments by India and Indonesia also declined.
India’s export of apparel to the US dropped by 1.10 per cent year-on-year to $1.34 billion (134 crore) in the first four months of 2021. India is the fourth largest apparel exporter to the US.
Besides, Indonesia exported apparel worth $1.27 billion (127 crore) to the US in January-April of 2021, which is 11.18 per cent less comparing to the corresponding period of the previous year.
Vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Mohamamd Hatem told Prothom Alo, “Exports dropped a little last May because of Ramadan and Eid. But we expect exports will increase from July-August. Because a good number of work orders are coming but not like that of regular times. Several work orders of the US buyers and brands have been diverted from China, Vietnam, and Cambodia to our country.”
Mohamamd Hatem further said buyers are offering lower prices despite the work orders. Yet the price of cotton has increased. In many case, the situation gets so complex since buyers don’t want to offer prices closes to the manufacturing cost. For this reason entrepreneurs have been forced to decline many work orders.
A portion of the work orders started coming to Bangladesh in the aftermath of the US-China trade war in 2019. Bangladesh’s export of apparel to the US reached a seven-year high of $5.93 billion (593 crore) that year.
This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna