Bangladesh imports garments worth Tk 5b a year, mainly from 3 countries

Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporting nation in the world and the Made in Bangladesh clothings grace the selling outlets of different elegant brands in Europe and America. 

At the same time, the country imports ready-made garments worth Tk 5 billion a year mainly from India, Pakistan and China, despite the presence of a significant number of local fashion brands and boutique houses. 

Although importing clothes is a year-round practice, it sees a boom before the Eid-ul-Fitr. Among the imports, women's traditional wear like lehengas, salwar kameez, sarees, odnas, and blouses are prominent, while T-shirts, shirts, Panjabis, jackets, and jeans dominate the men's department. Besides, there are some imported clothes for children. 

Multiple traders associated with the imports said both branded and non-branded entities import foreign garments, while some export-oriented garment factories import clothes as samples.

Garments worth Tk 5 billion entered the country through proper taxations at legal channels, but there are some unregistered entry routes for the garment products, including the smuggling racket called the Luggage Party. Therefore, the actual imports of garment products will be much higher. 

According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), a total of 23.5 million pieces of ready-made garments, worth nearly Tk 5.02 billion, were imported legally in the last year. The import volume was even higher in 2022 as it registered imports of 26.3 million pieces of garment products at a cost of Tk 4.66 billion. 

The high exchange rate of dollars pulled up the import costs and it is reflected in the higher import costs against lower volume in the last year, compared to the previous year.

This year, a staggering 7.5 million pieces of clothing were imported at a cost of Tk 2.14 billion in the last three months until March. The clothes were imported from more than 90 countries across the world, while a majority, 96 per cent, came from China, India, and Pakistan. 

Three-piece and sarees for women, and panjabis for men are largely sourced from India, while traders import mostly three-piece from Pakistan. Besides, T-shirts, jerseys, and jackets are imported from China.

According to the NBR, the average price of each imported garment was Tk 214 in the previous year. The price stands at Tk 475 with an additional 127 per cent customs duty.