As per Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, shipments of apparel goods to the US declined 16 per cent to $5.07 billion in 2020 down from $6.02 billion in 2019. The steep decline was due to the ongoing pandemic, which hit people’s income and supply chain. Exports earnings from woven products witnessed sharpest fall of 22.13 per cent to $4.49 billion, which was $4.49 billion in the previous year. However, knitwear products posted positive growth up 2.73 per cent to $1.56 billion from $1.52 billion in 2019.
Production of woven products was hampered due to supply chain disruption during the first phase of Covid. Bangladesh needs to import fabrics for woven products mostly from China. However, experts also blamed longer lead time and sharp negative growth in woven products for the downtrend in US markets.
Amid the pandemic, lead time was crucial for importers and brands as the supply chain was disrupted. They preferred Vietnam due to shorter lead time. Experts feel in order to grow in the US market Bangladesh has to come out from the traditional exporting items and attract FDI in areas where there are opportunities for manufacturing value added goods. Additionally the country should develop strong backward linkage for the woven sector to reduce import dependency and to increase value addition.