11 March 2015
Apparel exports from Bangladesh have been severely hit by the consequences of the Rena Plaza tragedy, nearly two year ago. Exports to the US market have begun already declining whereas shipments to the European Union have clearly slowed down in key product categories. Our statistical tables provide a comprehensive view of Bangladesh's clothing exports, including per destination and per HS 4-digit category, also covering the latest US and EU apparel import data per product category. Volume, value and unit price changes are released with all data available for download.
Bangladesh began last year seriously feeling the negative consequences of the security issues at its apparel plants.
US buyers have sharply reduced orders in tha wake of the Rana Plaza disaster which took lives of more than 1,000 workers nearly two years ago.
US apparel imports from Bangladesh therefore dropped by 4.9% in volume terms in full 2014 whereas EU clothing imports continued rising 8.7% over the same period.
Shipments to the European Union had however surged 18.3% in 2013 whereas US imports from Bangladesh had jumped by 13.3%.
Efforts have been made by two coalitions of US and EU brands and retailers in order to convince consumers that security issues have been or could be fixed.
In full last year however, Bangladeshi apparel exports have only increased by 9.8% in local currency terms by contrast with a rise of 11.7% in 2013.
The US market remains the largest destination accounting for 30.5% of total shipments of woven apparel but only for 10.3% of knit apparel exports.
Bangladeshi suppliers have suffered a real setback in a series of key categories of the US market, especially in 341 (women/girls woven shirts) with a fall of 22% in volume terms in full last year.
More importantly, shipments of cotton trousers to the US market have respectively dropped by 15.7% and 21.7% in categories 347 (men/boys) and 348 (women/girls), respectively.
Both categories account for about 41% of total apparel exports to the United States, in value terms.
Bangladesh mostly sells cotton apparel to the US (76% of total shipments), being also weakened by the current shift in demand from cotton to man-made fiber apparel.
On EU's clothing market, Bangladesh was more able to resist the negative trends, as European consumers are less sensitive to the fate of poor workers in remote countries.
In addition, Bangladesh enjoys a duty-free access to the European market which is not the case for the US market.
According to latest official data from Dhaka, apparel exports are hit in key categories of products like T-shirts of HS 6109 where they rose only 3.2% in value terms over the first seven months of the new fiscal year, against a jump of 10.9% in full 2013.
Exports of pullovers even fell 3.7% over the same July 14-January 15 period, after surging 35% in full 2013.
With competitors like Vietnam and India taking additional shares on the global apparel market, Bangladesh is obviously confronted with a real threat, as apparel exports still account for nearly 70% of total exports from the impoverished country.
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