The OTEXA data shows the US import of apparel products rose 40.11 per cent year-on-year to $40.93 billion (4,093 crore) in January-May this year and that means Bangladesh’s export also saw a rise.

US is the single largest market of Bangladesh’ RMG products. RMG export to the US fell after question arose over work environment at the factories following the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse. The situation started changing in because of the trade war between USA and China in 2019.

In the meantime, entrepreneurs in Bangladesh improved factory work environment significantly, reviving the apparel export to the US. RMG exporters brought $5.93 billion (593 crore) home in 2019 and they continued to do it robustly in the following year before Covid-19 pandemic broke out and that saw export dropping.

Bangladesh’s export of RMG to the US was $5.23 billion (Tk 523 crore) in 2020, with exports starting to revive since May last year.

Speaking to Prothom Alo over mobile phone on Monday, former president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Fazlul Hoque said two factors contributed to the rise of RMG export to the US market; one is knitwear along with woven garments has been going to the US market in large amounts over the past two years and another is, at present many factories are exporting more knitwear to the US than Europe. And that is very positive, he added.

Inflation has risen sharply in the US because of Russia-Ukraine war and since US citizens are purchasing essentials more for the time being, brands are seeing fall in sales slightly, Fazlul Hoque said adding, big buyers like Walmart and GAP are reducing work orders and also asking to delay shipping of ongoing orders.

Apparently, it will be a challenge to sustain the pace of RMG export to the US in the current fiscal like the export in the outgoing fiscal, he stressed.

The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) release data on the country’s export earning in each fiscal.

According to EPB, Bangladesh’s export of RMG products to the US rose 51.57 per cent to a record $9.01 billion (901 crore) or approximately Tk841.98 billion (84,198 crore) in 2021-22 fiscal. Earnings from RMG export to the US was $5.94 (594 crore) in 2020-21 fiscal.

China, according to OTEXA, is the largest exporter of RMG products to the US, followed by Vietnam. China saw a 42 per cent year-on-year rise to $8.27 billion (827 crore) in January-May this year while Vietnam exported RMG products worth $7.63 billion (763 crore), which rose 32.98 per cent from the corresponding period of the previous year.

Bangladesh is the third largest exporter of RMG products to the US market, followed by India and Indonesia. India and Indonesia’s export of RMG products to the US rose 55 and 59.75 per cent year-on-year to $2.69 billion (269 crore) and $2.54 billion (254 crore) respectively in January-May this year, according to OTEXA.

This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna.