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Will the Russia-Ukraine war hamper Bangladesh’s readymade garment exports?

Bangladesh's readymade garment sector witnesses healthy growth (Pic: IANS)

Bangladesh’s exports of readymade garment (RMG) in 2021-22 increased by 35.47 per cent to touch $42.613 billion against $31.456 billion in 2020-21. But exporters' concerns are rising amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The provisional data released by the Export Promotion Bureau revealed that exports were 21.25 per cent higher than the $35.144 billion target set for the last fiscal. The sector that employs more than 4 million people — majority of whom are women– is critical for Bangladesh’s economy.

Bangladesh has also managed to increase its apparel exports to the US. In a major development, last year Bangladesh had overtaken China in terms of growth in apparel exports to the US.

Bangladesh has achieved an all-time high in terms of value of exports in 2021-22, according to Fibre2Fashion, a website on garment sector.

In the fiscal ended June 30, 2021, readymade garment exports from Bangladesh increased by 12.55 per cent to $31.456 billion compared to exports of $27.949 billion in the fiscal 2019-20, the website said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said that improving the manufacturing sector’s productivity will be crucial for Bangladesh, as it is now gearing up to exit the list of least developed countries (LDC).

However, worries are also increasing for Bangladesh’s apparel industry as the US led regulations on banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region have kicked off.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming, according to Dhaka based the Daily Star, has warned that if Bangladesh is not cautious of the "lies" being spread by Washington on Xinjiang’s labour issues, its RMG industry may get dented.

China’s exports of cotton to Bangladesh stood at $2.46 billion during 2021. Besides Bangladesh, Vietnam and Pakistan also comprise the main exports markets of China.

Of the total cotton production in the world, Xinjiang produces about 20 per cent and the province is China’s largest textile and apparel exporter.

Bangladesh imports cotton from other countries including India as well.

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