Fear looms large again over apparel export to US

Logo of OTEXA

Logo of OTEXA

Global export of apparel products to the US fell by one-fourth in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic battered the country more than any other parts of the world.

The apparel export to the US rose slightly in the first two months of 2021 after the coronavirus situation slightly improved.

Bangladesh also gained from it, but fear looms large again over the export of apparel products to the US market because of new spike in coronavirus infections.

US buyers imported apparel products worth USD64.07 billion (6,407 crore) in 2020 – 23.46 per cent down from 2019. US import of apparel products dropped by 13.85 per cent to UDS10.91 billion (1,091 crore) in the first two months of 2021.

The US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textile and Apparel (OTEXA) said in its latest data.

According to OTEXA, Bangladesh’s export of apparel products to US dropped by 13.11 per cent to USD1 billon (100 crore) equal to Tk 85 billion (8500 crore) in the first two months of 2021. Bangladesh is the third largest apparel exporter to the US market after China and Vietnam.

Last year, Vietnam beat China to become the top apparel exporter to the US for a while amid the pandemic. China’s export to the US fell by 9.22 per cent to UDS2.45 billion (245 crore) in the first two months of 2021.

Vietnam’s export to the US dropped by 12.9 per cent to UDS2.09 billion (209 crore) in January-February of 2021. Vietnam exported apparel products worth UDS2.34 billion (234 crore) in the corresponding period of 2020.

India and Indonesia also saw downtrend in their apparel export to the US. India’s export of apparel products to the US dropped by 21.89 per cent to USD590 million (59 crore) in January-February of 2021.

India is the fourth largest apparel exporter to the US. Besides, Indonesia’s export of apparels fell by 29.64 per cent to USD550 million (55 crore) in the first two month of 2021.

In the meantime, US reported more than 78 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, with about 900 deaths. Like the US, Bangladesh has also seen a spike in Covid-19 infection.

So, fear looms large over the fall in work orders from the US buyers. However, the Joe Biden administration has progressed in coronavirus vaccination as the US is working to ensure vaccine for 200 million (20 crore) people by May.

Regarding this, former president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Fazlul Haque told Prothom Alo, “The pace of economic recovery is still sloth in the USA. Buyers and brands are taking all types of apparel products but in less quantity. Covid-19 infections have spiked again in the country although a large number of its population have received vaccines. Things are getting complex because of new strains of coronavirus.”

Falzul Haque further said business will take more time to bounce back in the wake of spike coronavirus infections.

Buyers take decision based on the forecast for next 6-7 months. So, if Covid-19 situation doesn’t improve quickly, RMG export may experience downtrend. Although buyers haven’t given any such massage as yet, Falzul Haque added.

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