The country’s export earnings grew by 9.71 per cent to US$34.24 billion in FY16 from US$31.21 billion in the previous fiscal year. This amount is the highest in the country’s history. Export earnings were also 2.21 per cent higher than the strategic annual target (US$33.50 billion). The readymade garments (RMG) industry played a major role in the overall increase in exports. According to industry insiders, improvements in the safety standard in the RMG sector contributed to the growth of export. EPB data shows that the RMG sector, the main driver of Bangladesh’s export, alone earned US$28.09 billion or 82.04 per cent of total exports in FY16, registering a 10.20 per cent growth from US$25.49 billion in FY15.
MCCI’s analysis of EPB’s export data for July-June of FY16 shows that the country’s major export products, i.e., woven garments, knitwear, leather & leather products, jute & jute goods, agricultural products, engineering products, other footwear, man-made filaments & staple fibres, specialized textiles, headgear/cap, other manufactured products, petroleum bye products, chemical products, and computer services experienced positive growth, while home textile, frozen & live fish, plastic products, cotton and cotton products showed negative growth compared to the corresponding period in the previous fiscal.
According to the EPB data, exports to European Union countries rose by 9.68 per cent to US$18.69 billion in FY16, while exports to the US market, the single largest export destination for Bangladesh, increased by 7.61 per cent to US$6.22 billion in FY16. On the other hand, RMG export to non-traditional markets rose by 10.48 per cent to US$4.31 billion in FY16, which was US$3.9 billion a year ago. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of clothing products after China and is benefiting from the China shift. Brands and buyers are shifting business from China, which would help Bangladesh grab more market shares. A slow and steady entrance in high value products is pushing up export value. New investment in eco-friendly manufacturing is another indicator of increased production capacity would ultimately attract buyers. According to the sector people, buyers’ confidence has been restored in Bangladeshi manufacturers because of improvements in safety standard.
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) achieved a good growth in export in FY16. Exports also exceeded the target in FY16. According to BEPZA data, exports from the country’s eight EPZs rose by 9.17 per cent to US$6.67 billion in FY16 from US$6.11 billion in FY15. EPZs’ exports in FY16 were also 11.17 per cent higher than the target (US$6.00 billion). BEPZA credited the growth of exports to a peaceful production environment and industry friendly atmosphere in EPZs.
Imports increased by 5.45 per cent in FY16 to US$42.921 billion compared to US$40.704 billion in FY15. Settlement of import LCs in FY16 increased by 4.22 per cent and stood at US$40.076 billion, compared to US$38.455 billion in FY15. Fresh opening of import LCs during FY16 increased slightly by 0.62 per cent to US$43.335 billion compared to US$43.069 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal year.
BB data show that import of food grains, particularly rice and wheat decreased by 15.19 per cent to 40.81 lakh metric ton in July-May of FY16 compared to 48.12 lakh metric ton in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year. Settlement of import LCs of industrial raw materials and capital machinery increased as the businesspeople saw signs of improved investment climate as the political situation apparently eased.