Bangladesh's apparel exports to the US witnessed a meagre growth of less than one per cent in January 2017 while its competitors including China and Vietnam registered double-digit growth in terms of square meter shipments.
On the other hand, the country's earnings from apparel exports to the US grew negatively by 3.24 per cent to $ 481.54 million in the first month of the current calendar year from $ 497.66 million in January 2016, according to the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) under the US Department of Commerce.
During the month, Bangladesh exported 177.09 square meters of apparels to the US- the single largest destination-- marking a 0.82 per cent growth.
Vietnam recorded the highest growth both in square meter and value -- 23.49 per cent and 18 per cent growth respectively. It exported 348.16 million square meters of apparels against 281.93 square meters and fetched $ 1.09 billion in January last which was $ 926.08 million in January 2016, data showed.
China exported 1.06 billion square meters of apparels marking a 13.26 per cent growth in January 2017. The country earned $ 2.52 billion, up from $ 2.41 billion, showing a 4.63 per cent growth during the month.
Cambodia, Indonesia and Pakistan recorded 12.66 per cent, 11.89 per cent and 11.62 per cent growth respectively in exporting apparels in square meter in the first month of 2017, according to the data.
India marked an 8.63 per cent growth. In January last, in terms of value, India fetched $ 328.43 million registering 4.31 per cent and Indonesia earned $ 420.87 million with 6.12 per cent growth.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, managing director of Envoy Group, said the data indicated that Bangladesh is losing its competitiveness while that of competitors is going up.
Production cost in the country has gone up significantly due to high utility rate, appreciation of Taka against US Dollar while currencies are devaluating in competing countries, he said, adding that moreover, they (competing countries) have their own raw materials and their government is providing a wide range of supports including incentives in machinery import and better infrastructure.
"We are also getting support from the government, but that is not enough to sustain our competitiveness," he opined.
Prices of locally-made garment exported to the US are declining, exporters said.
After the election in the US, its policy is expected to get changed, they said, expressing fear that competing countries might get better opportunity than Bangladesh in the US market.