7 months ago

Exports to India see robust rise

Goods worth $1.99b shipped in FY '22: EPB data

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The country's overall exports to India reached US$1.99 billion in the last fiscal year (FY '22) marking a robust 55 per cent year-on-year growth.

Bangladesh shipped goods worth US$1.27 billion to the neighbouring country in the fiscal year 2020-21 or FY '21, according to an Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.

The FY '22 export earnings surpassed the pre-pandemic level income which was US$1.24 billion in FY '19, the EPB data showed.

However, the country's trade cap with India continued to widen in the period.

Imports from India increased considerably over the years triggering a huge trade gap between the two neighbours, mostly in favour of India.

Bangladesh imported goods worth US $8.59 billion in the FY '21, according to data available with the central bank.

Readymade garment or RMG is the major local good (about 35 per cent) shipped to India followed by other products - raw hides, leather goods, jute goods, fish and crustaceans, inorganic and organic chemicals, sources said.

Out of the US $1.99 billion exports in FY '22, RMG (both woven and knit) items fetched $715.41 million, 69 per cent higher than the previous fiscal year's earnings of $ 421.86 million, according to the EPB.

Exporters, especially those shipping apparels, attributed the increase in exports to a growth in demand of these items among India's rising middle-class people.

They opined that India is among one of the Asian potential markets, not only for RMG but also for non-RMG products.

Western retailers, having outlets in India, and Indian local brands also found sourcing their goods from Bangladesh competitive while RMG enjoys duty benefit, they mentioned.

Talking to the FE, Fazlul Hoque, former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said the growing middle-class in India is pushing up the demand for the Bangladesh-made garment items there.

During the last six months, apparel retailing in India increased by 18 per cent, he said, adding the local RMG exports may witness a fall in traditional markets while it will grow in Asian markets, especially in Indian market.

Besides the rising demands, Indian buyers' confidence in Bangladesh-produced quality goods have notably grown, he said, adding exporters are now getting huge queries from Indian buyers. Not only India but also China and Japan are big and potential Asian markets for local RMG items.

"We should now focus on Asian markets to sustain the growth at a time when the traditional markets including EU and US economy are poised to face economic recession," he noted.

He emphasised on taking measures by trade bodies, EPB, entrepreneurs and also at individual level to raise exports there.

Contacted, Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), echoed the BKMEA leader.

He said they are now focusing on the Asian markets with the view to sustaining the growth as work orders from traditional markets declined recently for multiple global factors, including inflation there and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Exporters are also taking moves individually to develop markets beyond the traditional ones, he noted.

The duty-free access to India has also encouraged Western buyers who have outlets there to source from Bangladesh through Indian market.

"Indian local clothing brands are also gaining confidence in our quality products," he said terming India a big and potential market for Bangladesh.

He stressed the need for developing full functional land ports like Bhomra and Sonamasjid to facilitate trade activities.

Local jute exporters, however, said their shipments to India are facing difficulties due to imposition of anti-dumping duty on jute goods by that country.

Abdul Barik Khan, secretary general of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA), said that jute exports to India fell significantly due to the anti-dumping duty on jute goods.

Sources, however, said that India may soon remove anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute-goods exports, dropping a hint that the announcement may come during the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Delhi in the first week of next month.

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