DHAKA: Bangladesh’s exports in July rose 26.5 percent from a year earlier to $3.2 billion, the Export Promotion Bureau said on Wednesday, but was slightly below target. Shipments of key readymade garments, comprising knitwear and woven items, totalled $2.48 billion for the first month of the current financial year, up 17 percent on year. That was 4.8 percent below the target. The government has set an export target of $37.5 billion for the 2017-18 financial year, with readymade garments earning $30.16 billion. The strategic exports target for the month of July was $3.239 billion. Exporters blamed the lacklustre growth for the previous financial year on a number of factors, including sluggish demand in key markets, structural reforms in the garment sector, a weak euro and appreciation of the local currency against the U.S. dollar.
Garments are a key foreign-exchange earner for the South Asian nation, whose low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China. But the industry, which supplies many Western brands, came under scrutiny after a string of fatal factory accidents, including a 2013 building collapse that killed more than 1,130 people. Last month, Bangladesh’s central bank left key interest rates unchanged, saying it was trying to balance economic growth and inflation risks.