Prices of the top 20 local ready-made garment (RMG) items declined in 2020 due to a fall in global demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic, exporters said.
The items comprising 12 major knitted and eight woven items contributed more than 80 per cent of the total RMG export earnings last year.
According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), average prices of the knitted items in 2020 declined by 3.47 per cent compared to that in 2019.
The items included cotton-knitted T-shirt, both cotton and manmade fibre-knitted jersey and pullover, cotton-knitted trousers, cotton-knitted shirts and trousers, babies' cotton-knitted garments.
BGMEA president Dr Rubana Huq said exports of those items have gone down by 9.02 per cent in dollar value and 5.75 per cent by volume (in kg).
This results in a unit value (price) decline by 3.47 per cent on average, she explained to the FE.
On the other hand, average prices of top eight woven items fell by 1.0 per cent the same year than the previous year's rate.
Although exports of knitwear items posted growth in the second half of the last calendar year, exports of both woven and knitwear products declined throughout the year.
Bangladesh fetched $14.28 billion in 2020 from knitwear exports which were $16.44 billion in 2019, according to the data of the apparel advocacy group.
Exports of woven items stood at $13.24 billion last year, down from the previous year's $16.63 billion.
The country earned $27.47 billion from RMG exports in 2020 which was $33.07 in 2019.
When asked, former BGMEA leader Shahidullah Azim said, "The fall in price is eating into our competitiveness. Despite a declining trend in prices, we're taking low-rated orders mainly to run businesses and pay workers."
If exporters did not accept the orders, buyers might shift to other countries and they (exporters) would not be able to pay workers and meet other overhead costs, he explained.
However, exports of knitted items grew despite the pandemic as those are regular useable clothing, he said, explaining that woven items are more formal and useable outdoor.
As virus forced people to stay indoors in Bangladeshi-made apparel items' major destinations, he said, export of woven items was less than the knitted ones.
Fazlul Hoque, former president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the largest market for woven items is the USA, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Foreign buyers placed work orders with short lead time, ranging from one month to one and a half months, during the trying time.
"Bangladesh is in a good position for quick delivery of knitted items, thanks to its backward linkage industry," Mr Hoque mentioned.
For woven items, buyers prefer India and Pakistan as their woven backward linkage industries are stronger than Bangladesh, he noted.