Of the different sources of the country's foreign currency earning, the major one, export, has registered a robust growth all through the previous year. The contributing factors included the opening up of the markets, especially, the European and North American ones. Evidently, the falling curve of infections from the Covid-19 lay behind the disrupted supply chains' reconnection and rebuilding. Business as a result has regained some degree of normality across the globe. The rise in demand in the Western retail markets for apparel products has obviously been a boost for the local clothing sector, especially, the Readymade Garment (RMG). Thankfully, the local RMG units have been kept running amid the second wave of the pandemic.
Small wonder that as soon as the post-pandemic European buyers began to place orders, the local RMG units could respond to those without delay. It was undoubtedly a great advantage that the local clothing sector enjoyed vis-à-vis its competitors abroad particularly in Southeast Asia. Indeed, the local RMG units' insistence on keeping their factories open despite the pandemic and the government's having reciprocated their stance willingly have paid dividends. A brief survey of the country's export earnings in FY2021-22 and the apparel sector's share in it will be enough to prove the point. In the immediate past month, for example, the earning from the country's entire export was USD4.90 billion. Year-on-year, the growth was 48.27 per cent. Also, it exceeded the target set for the month by 25.45 per cent. Consider that the RMG's share of the total earning was USD 4.04 billion, according to the provisional data provided by the Export promotion Bureau (EPB). The EPB data further suggests that since September last year, the country's export earning for a single month has crossed the USD4.0 billion mark.
What is further uplifting is the fact that not only the RMG, the merchandise exports in general have recorded 28.41 per cent growth thereby bringing in USD24.69 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year. Again, out of this amount, the RMG's earning alone was USD 19.90 billion. As expected, year-on-year, it marked 28 per cent growth. A closer look at the clothing sector's performance will reveal that each of the sub-sectors including the knitwear, woven garments and home textile demonstrated robust growth in export performance.
Though the overall performance of the export sector following the second wave of the pandemic has been vigorous, there should still be no room for complacency. This is for the simple reason that the pandemic is not over. For its third wave, now the latest version of the Covid-19, the Omicron variant, has already begun to crash against the shores of Europe and North America with a vengeance. Worse, infection from this variant of the pandemic has reportedly been increasing in Bangladesh during the past few days. This definitely poses a new challenge before export sector. Add to that the rising prices of raw materials, increasing costs of shipping and other related factors causing to push up the prices of the exportables. These issues are of concern so far as competitiveness of our products in the international market is concerned. Given the government's experience in tackling especially the pandemic before, it is hoped that it could also meet the new challenges to business as well as public health now arising in its stride.