Exports bounce back in Nov after two months of falls

Bangladesh exports rose 9.27 per cent in November from a year earlier to $2.4 billion, driven by an increase in garment exports and ending two straight months of declines, government data showed on Monday.

export-importExports from July to November, the first five months of the financial year, inched up 0.92 per cent to $12 billion from a year earlier, the Export Promotion Bureau said.

Readymade garments, comprising knitwear and woven items, fetched $9.69 billion in July-November, compared with $9.65 billion in the same period a year ago.

Exports in the 2013-14 financial year hit a record $30 billion, up 11 per cent from the previous year, on the back of stronger garment sales.

However, the garment industry, which supplies many Western brands such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and H&M , has come under pressure after a string of fatal factory accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April 2013 that killed more than 1,130 people.

The government, industrialists and the global brands that buy clothes from the factories have been called on to reform the sector, which employs nearly 4 million people and generates 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s export earnings.

The low wages and what critics say are shortcuts on safety make it one of the cheapest countries in the world to make large quantities of clothing. Bangladesh is the second-largest exporter of readymade garments after China.

Last year, the government raised the minimum wage for garment workers by 77 per cent to 5,300 taka ($68) a month and amended the labour law to boost workers’ rights.

Bangladesh’s exports in the 2014-15 financial year are expected to rise 10 per cent from a year earlier to $33.2 billion.

Garment exports for the current financial year have been targeted at $26.9 billion, up 10 per cent from previous year’s $24.5 billion when clothing sales surged 14 per cent.

($1 = 77.80 Bangladesh Taka)