RMG exports slow in crisis: Businessmen fear tough time ahead

The average month-wise exports of ready-made garment (RMG) products slowed in February, compared to the 2009-04-09__b03previous month of this fiscal year, because of the ongoing global recession, the latest data of Export Promotion Bureau shows.

The February earning from woven exports came down to $532.80 million, with an 11.47 percent rise from January’s $584.24 million. January’s growth figure was 18.66 percent.

The knitwear exports in February also slumped to $466.71 million from $562.94 million in January. The state-run export promotional agency showed 2.56 percent growth in February, while it was 21.22 percent in January, compared to the figures in the same period a year earlier.

However, the overall export performance of RMG products (woven and knitwear) in eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal year is still maintaining a 21.22 percent growth despite recession.

Woven and knitwear exports have grown 19.26 percent to $3.922 billion and 23.08 percent to $4.270 billion respectively in July-February.

The annual export target of knitwear was fixed at $6.583 billion and woven at $5.684 billion for FY2008-09.

The exporters have expressed their disarray over what they said inconsistency in the growth and the low prices international buyers now offer.

Raising an alarm on a declining trend in January, February and March, some demand that the government immediately come up with stimulus package for the garment sector, now under the shadow of global recession.

Exporters said the overall performance of RMG export still maintains higher growth, as the country experienced 84.72 percent, 27.99 and 50.55 percent growth in knitwear exports in July, August and September respectively.

Woven exports grew 58.55 percent, 16.52 percent and 39.09 percent in the months respectively.

The RMG sector felt the real pinch of recession in the month of October when knitwear export growth slipped 7.82 percent and woven 7.13 percent from targets, compared to the month a year earlier.

Except those of woven and knitwear products, the EPB showed that terry towel exports grew 19.08 percent to $87.14 million in July-February period, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Talking to The Daily Star, Apurba Ahmed Apu, chief of the Buying Department at SAG Fashion International, a leading merchandising and garment house, pointed to the worse situation in terms of export volume in the three months of 2009, the last portion of the current fiscal year.

He said export orders declined to $3.0 million from $10 million a month on an average during the time.

However, he sees a better situation now, as his company is getting more orders.

“But the problem is the continuous price-cutting. Sometimes they offer throwaway prices for Bangladesh’s RMG products,” Apu lamented.

The buyers offer even 50 percent less prices in some cases and on an average now they are giving 20 percent reduced price, compared with the corresponding period of the last year, he said.

Apu expects a higher volume of exports by June.

“The government should come forward to help the affected garment units during this bad period, otherwise there is a chance of losing competitiveness,” Apu added.

Iqbal Latif, chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Design World International, a merchandising house, said his company has been getting fewer orders for the last four months.

He said a few days ago a buying agent from Italy offered him only $47 for a dozen of shirts, although its break-even price was $52.

“After a long bargaining I refused to carry out the order as I could hardly make any profit,” he said.

ABM Shamsuddin, managing director of Fancy Fashion Sweater Ltd, said, “Since a critical time is ahead for the RMG sector, the government should announce stimulus for the manufacturers and exporters.”


Source: The Daily Star, 09 April 2009


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