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Bangladesh ahead of China in apparel exports to EU

In 2016, EU’s apparel imports from Bangladesh rose in volume for the ninth consecutive year. Bangladesh’s share of EU apparel imports from all sources has grown over a nine-year period from 12.2 per cent to 23.4 per cent.

China, by contrast, saw a dip in share in 2016. China’s share of EU apparel imports fell in volume terms for the sixth consecutive year. In 2010 over half of the volume of EU apparel imports came from China but by 2016 barely a third -- reflecting a sustained trend by EU buyers towards sourcing from alternative locations.

In an attempt to hold on to their market share, Chinese exporters are cutting prices. In 2016 alone, the average price of EU apparel imports from China fell by a sharp 8.2 per cent. However a strategy of holding on to market share by cutting prices is unsustainable for a country in which labor costs are rising significantly and shortages of labor are a growing problem.

In 2016 Bangladesh was the second cheapest supplier of apparel to the EU. Further, it was the cheapest supplier among the leading 10 suppliers in 12 individual apparel categories.