Hanoi ahead of Dhaka in Jan-May RMG exports

Product, market diversifications, exchange rates in focus

FE REPORT | Friday, 14 August 2020

Vietnam surpassed Bangladesh in exporting readymade garments (RMG) during the first five months of the current calendar year, industry insiders said.

Bangladesh, however, remained the second largest apparel exporter after China in the last calendar year of 2019, according to World Trade Organization (WTO).

Vietnam exported apparel worth US$10.50 billion in January to May of 2020 while Bangladesh's RMG exports during the same period stood at US$ 9.68 billion, according to data compiled from different sources.

Apparel exports from both the countries, however, declined during the period due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In 2019, Bangladesh exported $33.63 billion with a share of 6.83 per cent of the world market followed by Vietnam with $30.56 billion or 6.21 per cent of the global market.

China remained the top apparel exporter to the world. China fetched $151.58 billion, 30.81 per cent of the global market last year. During the January to May last India fetched US$4.68 billion followed by Cambodia with US$3.28 billion, Pakistan US$2.12 billion and Sri Lanka US$1.61 billion, data showed.

In January, Bangladesh exported apparel worth $3.03 billion while it earned US$ 2.78 billion and $2.25 billion in February and March 2020 respectively.

But in April, Bangladesh apparel exports fell to only $374.64 million and in May it stood at $1.23 billion, data showed.

On the other hand, Vietnam's RMG exports were $2.47 billion in January, $2.22 billion in February and $2.33 billion in March. In April, Vietnam fetched $1.60 billion while $1.86 billion in May last, according to data.

Industry insiders said that the issue needed to be taken into account that Vietnam factories didn't have to close factories like Bangladesh for a month.

As Vietnam is Bangladesh's main competitor for the second position, they said with FTA in EU market Vietnam will be in a very good position.

Bangladesh needs to concentrate on both product and market diversifications and foreign exchange rates needs to be reconsidered for export-oriented industries, they opined. Even countries like India and Pakistan are doing very well in terms of export with devaluation of their currency.