Kazi Azizul Islam
Taking the advantage of total quota-free access to the US market Chinese apparels exporters have outnumbered Bangladesh in trouser segment. The Chinese exporters, with their swelling shipments, out-placed Bangladesh from its number one position in US market of imported trousers, said officials at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association.
Trouser shipment generated $1.3 billion out of $3.4 billion of Bangladesh’s entire apparel export earnings from the USA in 2008, so they term that the trend of exports was very much alarming for the country’s apparel sector.
The BGMEA officials quoted US commerce department data that show Chinese trouser shipments to the USA grew by robust 76 per cent in January-March of the current year while growth for Bangladesh dropped to less than 18 per cent. In 2008, Bangladesh’s trouser shipments to USA grew by more than 26 per cent over the year.
The US Commerce Department data shows in January-March, Chinese exporters shipped 105 million pieces of trousers to the US markets. Chinese shipments grew by robust 76 per cent on 60 million pieces shipped in January-March 2008.
Bangladesh’s shipment amounted at 101 million pieces in first three months of 2009 against 86 millions in the corresponding period of the past year.
Chinese exporters have regained their competitive strength as they get fresh cash incentives, full rebates on taxes and other facilities from their government,’ said M Nasir Uddin, chairman of the Pacific Jeans Limited, a leading exporter.
‘Due to much lower labour cost, Bangladesh was able to offer lowest prices earlier, but exporters in China have slashed prices much recently,’ said Nasir, ‘They [other countries’ exporters] are also utilising the benefit of their fresh monetary incentives to be more competitive.’
Nasir said Chinese exporters are now able to offer competitive prices than the Bangladeshi suppliers, so US importers are diverting their orders to China again.
Withdrawal of quota on some categories of their garments opened market for China in the USA from the beginning of the current year, said Professor Mustafizur Rahman of Centre for Policy Dialogue.
‘The recent massive stimulus packages of the Chinese government have strengthen the competitiveness of the Chinese exporters much to cultivate the quota-free market,’ he pointed out.
Suggesting the Bangladesh government to sit with the garment exporters for diagnosing the trouser market, Mustafiz said, ‘Possible supports to exporters for retaining their market should also be provided immediately.’
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, said US data indicated how Bangladeshi exporters were becoming vulnerable in the global market.
He said that declined demand in recession-hit market and redefined competitiveness in the manufacturing were reshaping the map of apparel sourcing.
He, however, hopes that Bangladeshi exporters will be able to retain their market share if government supports exporters with fresh incentives and effective policy measures.
Source: The Daily New Age, 09 April 2009