President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Dr Rubana Huq has said the current downtrend in RMG export is likely to continue until April of this year.
"I seek all your help to look at the industry perspective and help us frame our narrative for policymakers to pay heed to the real situation and not the perceived one," she said in an open plea on Thursday.
She said the uncertainties and stresses caused by the second wave of Covid-19 still persists, coupled with the unavailability of vaccine, and highlighted the impact on the global economy it would leave.
Given the effect of lockdowns in Europe and USA and their impact on retail and demand, the worst-ever Christmas sales the world has seen, and most of all the effect of price decline (which is around 5 per cent since September 2020), it was a dark year for the Industry that they have seen, said the BGMEA chief.
"This is one of the most tragic turns in our industry. In the absence of proper restructuring or even an exit policy, shrouded by western bankruptcies, hounded by buyers’ unforgiving contracts and force majeure clauses, factories are facing turbulent times," Rubana said.
The BGMEA chief said the perception of the industry doing well and getting all the favours from the government must kindly be reassessed today. "Otherwise, jobs of 4.1 million workers will be at stake."
The commercial banks have been instructed by Bangladesh Bank to arrange repayment of the stimulus package by the third week of January 2021.
"The letters were issued day before yesterday. And the industry, amidst the second wave of Covid is taking a deep plunge into uncertainty," Rubana said.
Without the moratorium of the salary stimulus package being extended by six more months or the tenure of the loan being extended by at least one more year (currently 24 months) the industry will collapse, she said.
The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh has just published the export performance data for the month of December 2020 which continues to portray the worrisome scenario of exports.
"RMG has had consecutive downturn in export in December by 9.64 per cent, which wrapped up the annual export performance for 2020 with an unprecedented fall of 16.94 per cent," she said.
In December, the BGMEA chief said, woven garment export posted the worst performance since June 2020, as it declined by 18.07 per cent.
Knitwear export managed to have a relatively stable position with -0.45 per cent growth in December, thanks to the demand for apparel for home use, she mentioned.
While looking at two years trend, it shows that growth between October 2018 and 2020 was -26.03 per cent, and November 2018 and 2020 was -14.32 per cent.
"The two years change in export for the month of December is -8.55 per cent, meaning that we exported 8.55 per cent less in December this year compared to what we exported in December 2018!" said the BGMEA chief.