a year ago

Achilles heel of country's exports

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Amid reports of declining foreign exchange reserve and runaway inflation, there is not much for the general public to be optimistic about. Not even in the just proposed national budget, the biggest ever in the country's budgetary history, did the average person find any solace, as it did come up with any measure to combat inflation. 

As the shortage of dollar is a major driver of current inflation, there are some reassuring developments on this front. In the 10 months between July and April of this fiscal FY (2022-23), the country received USD17.718 billion as remittance. And this amount is 2.37 per cent higher than the receipt (in remittance)  during the same period in the previous fiscal year, FY (2021-22). Another piece of good news is that, as a country, it is now the USA, not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), that holds the top position as the source of remittance dollars. As the report from the Bangladesh Bank goes, during the months between July and April of the current fiscal year, workers from the USA sent home USD3.047 billion, whereas during the same period an amount of USD3.039 billion was remitted from the KSA. What is of further significance is the fact that, during the mentioned period,  the expatriate workers in the USA increased their homeward remittance by USD177 million compared to FY22's remittance at USD2.87 billon.  This development is especialy important for yet another reason.  At a time when many Bangladeshis who are also citizens of the USA are taking their well-earned or ill-gotten money from their land of birth to where they made their second home and thus rendered their motherland poorer, these migrant workers staying in the USA are sending their hard-earned dollars back home. They are indeed the real patriots. They  love their country and their families back home. The educated and affluent classes from the Bangladeshi communities living abroad  earn many times more than these migrant workers who are mostly engaged in odd jobs.But it is these less-privileged wage workers who have been helping their country in its hour of need.

Remittance apart, export is also learnt to have picked up, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB),  in May (last month) earning USD4.84 billion marking a growth of more than 26 per cent over the export earning in May FY22. However, the May 2023's performance still fell short of the target for that month by 5.29 per cent. Notably, the performance of the export in the previous two months was rather poor as it posted a negative growth of 16.52 per cent in April and of 2.49 per cent in March respectively.   

The overall export performance (at export valued USD50.52 billion) from July to May of the current fiscal year has also shown positive trend registering a growth of more than 7 per cent. And the best performer, as expected, is the Readymade Garment (RMG) sector  fetching a whopping USD42.63 billion. And it not only recorded a growth of 10.67 per cent, but also overshot it target set for the period.

Obviously, the RMG still remains the mainstay of the country's export. And as it is well-understood, overdependence on this single product is also the weak point of the nation's export regime. And the same argument can also be extended to case of our manpower export which is overwhelmingly dependent on unskilled workers. 

In fact, the  vulnerability of the economy related to the foreign currency reserve cannot be just wished away until and unless the issues of diversity and quality of the country's commodity and manpower exports are duly addressed. 

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