It’s only perseverance that can take us through these trying times, I am sure, no matter whatever the existing situation!
As they say there’s light at the end of a tunnel, COVID-19 is not going to linger forever. It would end soon, and signs that it is losing its sting are getting evident, as the number of fatalities in many parts of the globe keeps coming down.
Except for a couple of odd countries, Europe, more or less, seems to have been able to control the pandemic and so would USA it seems, in the near future, until of course there is a second wave. But even as things are normalising in the Western world, there does not seem to be much of an impact of it on Bangladesh’s apparel sector. Although there are reports of cancelled orders being reinstated and new work orders coming in, but only around 35 per cent capacity of the industry is reportedly booked for the consolidated period of July-December, which leaves a massive 65 per cent capacity unutilised still.
The BGMEA’s survey also underlined that in the second half of this year, there’s an average 14 per cent drop in prices of apparel items compared to the corresponding period of last year.
So, even as the going has been tough for the garment manufacturers, came again the help from the Government, which rolled out yet another stimulus package of Taka 3,000 crore to help pay workers’ wages for July. After the initial bailout package of Taka 5,000 crore to pay workers’ wages for 3 months, the Government, in a well-intentioned move, intervened again even as it announced an ambitious export target of US $ 48 billion for the current financial year.
As expected, the garment sector – for RMG sector, export earnings target has been set at US $ 33.37 billion for FY ’21, which is 20.88 per cent higher than the earnings of US $ 27.95 billion in FY ’20 – would have to play a major role in achieving this goal. But many believe, given the policy and fiscal support from the Government, it could be attained, as Bangladesh apparently stands a good chance to get decent share of the US apparel orders moving out of China on account of the trade war.
To add to which is China offering duty-free market access to 97 per cent Bangladeshi products from 1st July, which experts believe could fetch US $ 2.5 billion more export earnings, and not to mention the ever-increasing global demand for PPE and face masks, where many from Bangladesh, including Beximco, have already made their presence strongly felt, which opened up another export earning opportunity for the country.
The US $ 3.2 billion earning from apparel shipments in July – less than that registered in same period last year (in July last year, apparel exports stood at US $ 3.3 billion) – is nevertheless 14.1 per cent more than the target set by the Commerce Ministry for July, which is an inkling of the coming change, many believe.
So, hoping things would improve further in coming days and garment makers are able to persevere to reap the dividends as exports make a strong rebound, which is just a matter of time, I am certain.