55pc US apparel buyers want to increase sourcing from Bangladesh: Study

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A recent US study has suggested that top American apparel buyers are more interested in sourcing their products from Bangladesh than from Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Cambodia and other competitors in the course of the next two years.

The news came on the back of the Reuters report which suggested that Bangladeshi garment manufacturers have been bracing for a slowdown as sales at key customers such as Walmart are hit by a spike in inflation, reports bdnews24.com citing Apparel Resources.

Walmart, a US bellwether for the retail sector, cut its full-year profit forecast on Monday and pledged to reduce prices of clothing and general merchandise more aggressively.

The United States Fashion Industry Association, or USFIA, 2022 Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, however, suggested that a staggering 55 per cent of the US apparel executives have expressed interest to increase sourcing from Bangladesh till 2024, including three per cent who expected a strong increase.

The report further underlined when asked which countries or regions the US fashion companies planned to increase their sourcing value in the next two years, India led the way, followed by the CAFTA-DR region and Bangladesh with all three selected by more than half of the respondents, while Mexico came in the fourth place in this regard, with Indonesia and Vietnam tied for the fifth position.

CAFTA-DR or Dominican Republic-Central America FTA is the first free trade agreement between the United States and a group of smaller developing economies, which includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Bangladesh started exporting readymade garments in the early 80s and with goods worth $31.57 million, or 4 per cent of the total exports, sent abroad from the sector in the fiscal year 1983-84. The industry accounts for more than 80 per cent of total exports for Bangladesh now.

After four decades, Bangladesh has become the second largest apparel exporter in the world, with the garment industry contributing $42.61 billion, or 81.81 per cent of the total, to the country’s exports in the financial year that ended on Jun 30.

The European Union accounts for about 60 per cent of Bangladesh’s total garments sales, followed by about 20 per cent for the United States. Other buyers include Japan, Australia, India and China.

Bangladesh’s garments exports last shrank in July 2021 when COVID-19 cases were high around the world. Since then, sales have surged, growing by a multi-month high of 60 per cent year-on-year in March this year and 41 per cent in June, according to data released by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, or BGMEA.

Meanwhile, the apparel exporters of Bangladesh will organise a weeklong event in November to showcase the strength the industry has gained.

The BGMEA in partnership with the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange will organise the “Made in Bangladesh Week” starting on Nov 12 in Dhaka.

The event aims to highlight the progress being made, and the potential ahead and to draw a strategic alignment among the broader stakeholders toward a sustainable, resilient, modern, fair and equitable supply chain, the organisers said. They expect Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to inaugurate the event.

Industrial disasters such as the 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire and the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse led to rapid reforms in the industry with the help of Western retailers.

The weeklong event will have several programmes, including the 3rd Dhaka Apparel Summit, the 37th World Fashion Convention by the International Apparel Federation, Dhaka Apparel Expo, Bangladesh Denim Expo, the Sustainability Leadership Award, and Sustainable Design & Innovation Award. For details, the organisers opened a website (https://www.madeinbangladeshweek.com).

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