Exports slumped over 17 percent year-on-year to $3.07 billion in October for the third consecutive month compared with the corresponding months of last year. Export earning in October last year was $3.72 billion.
Export earning was $2.92 billion in September, down by 7.3% compared to the same month of last year while in August, the country earned $2.84 billion, down by 11.49% compared to the same month last year.
In July – October period of the current fiscal year of 2019-20, Bangladesh earned $12.72 billion which is 6.82% less compared to $13.65 billion in the same period a year ago.
According to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), October’s earnings were 11.71 percent down than the month’s target of $3.48 billion. Export receipts of the current fiscal year’s first four months are also nearly 7 percent lower than the target of $14.33 billion.
The apparel sector, which accounts for 84% of total exports, witnessed a 6.67% decline to $10.59 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year, which was $11.33 billion in the same period last year.
Bangladesh bagged only $5.53 billion from export of knitwear during the July-October period, down nearly 7 percent from the target and 5.73 percent from the same period a year ago.
Similarly, woven garments received $5.04 billion from exports, down over 17 percent than the target and 7.67 percent from the corresponding period in the previous year.
Exporters have blamed the sluggish exports on the local currency being stronger compared to the US dollar. For the last couple of months, they have been asking for the taka to be devalued as competing countries have depreciated theirs to give their exporters an advantage. They also claimed that, those countries also provided both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to their exporters to boost their competitiveness in the international market.
The industry insiders also blamed the the reduction in H&M’s purchases from Bangladesh since they have big stock of unsold apparel products. H&M alone accounted for around 10 percent of $34 billion worth of garments exported from Bangladesh in fiscal 2018-19.
In addition, the looming recession in Europe and the US has made consumers cautious about buying clothes.
Other than apparel sector, leather and leather goods, second largest exporting sector, saw an 8.2% fall to $317 million in July-October period. Among other major sectors, agricultural products saw a fall of 2.46% to $357.5, while frozen and live fish earnings declined by nearly eight percent to $182 million in the same period.
On positive note, export earnings from the pharmaceuticals sector rose by 8% to $47 million and plastic goods by 3.56% to $41 million in July-October period. Jute and jute goods, the third largest export earning sector, also registered a 8.88% growth to $260 million.
The Economists feared, if the trend persists, the country will not be able to achieve the current fiscal year’s target of $45.50 billion.