DHAKA: A rebound in garment orders after demand crashed during spring shutdowns is helping to revive the Bangladesh economy.
Apparel makers, the country’s main export industry, say they are looking ahead to Christmas orders from the US and other major markets.
Remittances from Bangladeshi workers employed overseas have also recovered, helping to relieve pressures from a pandemic quasi-shutdown during the spring.
The Asian Development Bank reported this week that the economic comeback was encouraging. It is forecasting the economy will grow at a robust 6.8% annual pace in the fiscal year that ends in June if current conditions persist.
That’s a much brighter outlook than in April-May, when global clothing brands suspended or cancelled orders worth more than $3 billion, affecting about 4 million workers and thousands of factories.
“At the moment we can say that the ready-made garment industry has been able to regain its growth trajectory upward compared to March-May,” Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, or BGMEA, told The Associated Press.
“As economies in the West were turning around we were successfully able to get the buyers back to the negotiating table, which is why 80% to 90% of the $3.18 billion in cancelled orders have been reinstated,” she said.
Bangladesh’s exports rose 0.6% to $3.9 billion in July, after plummeting 83% to $520 million in April. Imports, which are reported on a quarterly basis, began recovering earlier, rising 36% in May-June.
In August, exports rose 4.3% from a year earlier, to $2.96 billion, mostly driven by apparel shipments, according to the government’s Export Promotion Bureau. Garment shipments totalled $5.7 billion in July and August.
“The garment sector is making a good comeback. Our agriculture is doing well. Remittances are coming. These all are good signs for the economy,” said Ahsan H. Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, a think tank in Dhaka.
“The pace of the recovery is clearly visible. But challenges have been there t