Bangladesh seeks duty-free apparel export to US market

BDApparelNews Desk
1 February 2019  

US Ambassador to Dhaka Earl Miller (left) meeting Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at the latter`s ministry office January 31, 2019. Photo: PID

US Ambassador to Dhaka Earl Miller (left) meeting Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at the latter`s ministry office January 31, 2019. Photo: PID

Bangladesh has sought duty-free export of its apparel items to the market of its single biggest export destination, the United States.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen conveyed the message when US ambassador to Dhaka Earl Miller called at his office on January 31, 2019.

Foreign Minister Momen thanked the US ambassador and said that there is scope to take existing friendly relation between Bangladesh and USA to a new height.

Minister Momen assured the US ambassador of the Rohingya relocation to Bhashan Char and tanked the US government of continued support in Rohingya issue.

Minister Momen also sought US investment in Bangladesh’s infrastructure development. “It is an exciting time to invest in Bangladesh and there are tremendous opportunities diversify US investments,” he told the foreign envoy.

He also sought support from the US administration to secure tariff free access for Bangladesh’s garments products in the US market.

Later the US envoy separately met with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shariar Alam and discussed pertinent issues in Bangladesh-US bilateral relations.

The State Minister pointed out that though Bangladesh’s exports to USA under GSP were minimal, some promising business entrepreneurs suffered due to GSP suspension.

Alam said that high tariffs coupled with GSP suspension puts Bangladeshi businessmen into a formidable challenge in entering the US market. He emphasised on public diplomacy for expansion of Bangladesh-USA political and business ties.   

A TIMELY CALL?

The move from on behalf of Bangladesh comes at a time when the US, a country that is the top buyer for Bangladesh’s apparel products, is seeking to further boost bilateral business on a priority basis in the coming years.

Earl R Miller, the newly-appointed US ambassador to Dhaka, who will be in office for the next three years, had told Bangladesh upon his joining that the US embassy’s top priorities will be to increase economic engagement with Bangladesh.

His assessment was that the US companies and businesses doing so well in Bangladesh, and that is what has been listed on top of the priority list – to expand business. “We can do so much better. In the next three years, I hope to see more American and Bangladeshi companies engage,” he had said in a press briefing.

APPAREL EXPORT STATISTICS

United States remained the biggest market – country wise – for apparel export for Bangladesh in the last fiscal. During the period, products worth US $5.98 billion were exported – which is over 16 per cent of the total export of Bangladesh. Export earning was 2.3 per cent higher compared to the US $5.84 billion exported during 2016-17.

The main exported item in this market was woven garments at US $3.97 billion, followed by knitwear products at US $1.37 billion, home textiles at US $180 million, and caps at US $126 million. US procured over 25 per cent of Bangladesh’s woven products, 9 per cent of knitwear and 18 per cent of home textiles products.

Up until December 2018, apparel exports to US fetched US $3.07 billion, marking a 23 per cent gain over last year’s US $2.5 billion. During July-December 2018, trade of knitwear fetched over US $778 million, up by 8.5 per cent. Trade of woven rocketed to over US $2.3 billion, up by over US $27 per cent.

According to experts and industry stakeholders, this gain can be attributed to two major factors –the global shift in sourcing strategy, which is commonly known as China plus sourcing strategy, and to increasing work orders due the ongoing trade war between US and China.