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Nobody could have predicted that the RMG industry of Bangladesh, which started very small in the 1980s (exports didn’t exceed $3.5 million in 1981), would in less than four decades become a world player with 4.2 million workers and an export value in the last fiscal year of $30.61 billion.
And, what about the industry’s future? During the recent Fabric & Yarn Expo in Dhaka (November 15–18, 2018), many of them predicted without hesitation that by 2021, Bangladesh’s RMG exports will reach the official target of $50 billion.
According to Export Promotion Bureau figures, Bangladesh’s export earnings from knitwear stood at $15.2 bn (+10.4 per cent) in the last fiscal year, while woven products earned $15.4 bn (+7.2 per cent). As a garment exporter, Bangladesh is only preceded by China ($158 billion). It is beating Vietnam ($27 billion), India ($18 billion) and Turkey ($15 billion).
Annual export statistics, however, reveal that Bangladesh’s garment exports are too much focused on simple basic items and that the average value per item shows a downward trend. The conclusion is clear: RMG exporters who want to avoid deadly price competition should pursue “product differentiation” and “upgrading.”
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