Exports cruising towards target

After falling short last fiscal year, exports are on track to hit the target of $37.5 billion this year, propelled by a reinvigorated garment sector.

In the first 11 months of fiscal 2017-18, exports brought home $33.73 billion, meaning $3.77 billion is needed this month to reach the target.

Last month, exports fetched $3.32 billion, up 8.85 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.

Garment shipments that account for the lion’s share of export receipts raked in $28.13 billion, which is 9.80 percent higher than a year earlier.

The reasons for the higher receipts of the garment sector are increased sales of high-value items and the depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar.

“We will exceed our target for this fiscal year,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

The government has set a $30.16 billion target for garment exporters this fiscal year.

So far, the Accord and the Alliance, the two foreign inspection agencies, have completed 90 percent of the remediation works in 2,200 of their sourcing factories in Bangladesh.

As a result of the efforts, the garment factories can now confidently chase larger work orders from Western retailers. “Our garment factories are full of orders from international retailers,” Rahman said, adding that Bangladeshi garment products are performing well in the new markets like Japan, India, Russia, South Africa, Australia and Latin America.

The exporters also benefitted from the depreciation of the taka. On Monday, the interbank exchange rate was Tk 83.70 per dollar, up from Tk 80.50 a year earlier, according to data from the central bank.

Both the leather and jute sectors look set to cross the $1 billion mark in export receipts this fiscal year.

Leather and leather goods, the second largest export earner after garment, earned $999.07 million in the 11-month period, down 11.08 percent from a year earlier.

The botched relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh to Savar has been blamed for the decline in exports.

While all the tanneries have been relocated, only 25 of the 155 have been able to start production in their new location, industry people said. Jute and jute goods fetched $966.90 million in the July-May period, up 6.99 percent from a year earlier.

Home textile exports rose 11.67 percent to $823 million and agricultural products 18.09 percent to $609.01 million.

Frozen and live fish exports fell 1.59 percent to $465.32 million in the July-May period from a year earlier and plastic goods 17.82 percent to $90.04 million.

Footwear exports increased 2.55 percent to $225.77 million, furniture 21.33 percent to $58.19 million, bicycle 4.47 percent to $81.34 million and ceramic products 10.92 percent to $40.52 million.

Cement, salt and stone brought home $11.88 million, up 24.01 percent year-on-year. Pharmaceuticals earned $95.98 million, which is an increase of 15.89 percent from a year earlier.

Cotton, cotton products and yarn exports went up 15.86 percent to $117.15 million in the period.