Bangladesh enforced a two-month ‘countrywide shutdown’, beginning 26th March after the first case of Covid-19 was detected. There were large-scale order cancellations by global buyers worth US $ 3.18 billion, putting local suppliers in a tight spot), thousands of employees were terminated, factories either halted production or shuttered businesses altogether, sending exports for a toss. The Government had to roll out Taka 10,500 crore stimulus packages for export-oriented sectors, particularly the apparel industry.
Now with second wave of pandemic in Europe, especially Germany, Italy and Spain – where a walloping 64 per cent of the Bangladesh’s garment shipments head to – and resurgence of virus in Bangladesh this winter, can make things complicated for the industry, feel experts and industry insiders to whom Team AOB talked to. The things are not much different in USA as new cases of Covid-19 are on the increase, besides Presidential elections there.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has opened new avenues also for some exporters as face masks as a product category, both in terms of manufacturing as well as fashion statement by local brands – is gaining currency in Bangladesh. Despite China offering duty-free access to 97 per cent of Bangladeshi products effective from 1 July, EPB data shows Bangladesh’s exports to China in July-August period of the current FY ’21, is down by 16.66% compared to the same period of last year.