Japan now ‘lucrative destination’ for Bangladesh garments


Japan now ‘lucrative destination’ for Bangladesh garments
Monira Munni

Japan proves to be a lucrative destination for Bangladesh’s garment as apparel exports to the Asian giant saw an extraordinary 148.0 per cent growth in the first half of the current fiscal year compared to the same period a year ago.

Bangladesh exported ready-made garments (RMG) worth $34.043 million during the July-December period of 2009-10 compared to $19.415 million of 2008-09.

The country earned $74.381 million in fiscal 2008-2009 and $28.035 million in fiscal 2007-08 from RMG export, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.

Knitwear accounted for $ 28.090 million during the same period, up from $5.964 million a year before, the EPB data said.

The country made shipments of home textile worth $ 1.125 million during the July-December of the current fiscal year.

Japan has reduced its dependence on imports from China, which gave a boost to RMG exports out of Bangladesh further increasing their sourcing from Bangladesh, said manufacturers and exporters.

Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said growth in Bangladesh’s apparel exports to Japan has much potential to become sustainable as cost of garment production is lower here.

“The Japanese are coming to source more from Bangladesh in recent times while Bangladeshi exporters are actively trying to explore new markets,” he said.

Imported apparel market in Japan used to be dominated by China, but Japanese importers are now looking out for one more dependable source to reduce their reliance on China.

Industry experts said Bangladesh’s garment shipments to Japan started to swell in the middle of last year after the Japanese retail giant Uniqlo opened a sourcing office in Dhaka, prompting many other Japanese retailers to set their sights on Bangladesh.

“China factor” was playing a major role in swelling the growth of Bangladesh’s apparel exports to Japan.

Pointing out that the Japan market is more quality conscious than other markets, they said, “Japanese businessmen follow different ways of business and the Bangladeshi exporters should try to understand it.”

Mr Murshedy said Bangladesh is the top candidate for being next to China which has till now been the major apparel supplier to Japanese importers.

“The Japanese are now convinced that having decades of experience in supplying to the vast EU and US markets, Bangladesh’s apparel industry is now skilled enough to cater to customers in other regions,” he said.

“We are planning to organise a single country fair in Japan very soon displaying quality products to diversify the market,” BGMEA sources said. “We are hopeful that Japan will increase purchases from Bangladesh as the country reduced its dependence on China and Bangladesh is considered a strong competitor of China,” Fazlul Hoque, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) told the FE.

Mr Hoque led two high-powered delegations to Japan in the middle and end of last year in search of more orders.

“Japan is a ready market for us, as we produce high-quality products, which is a major criterion,” he said adding that the trend shows Bangladesh will be able to export apparel items worth a billion dollars in the next five years.

Uniqlo, one of the largest retail chains in Japan, started investing in Bangladesh, to purchase garment items with a plan to invest $ 70 million initially, Hoque said.

The report showed that Japanese importers procured $ 26.5 billion worth of apparels and accessories from overseas sources with China having the lion’s share of more than 80 per cent of shipments.

Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and India are the next significant sources for Japanese apparel importers, but the growth of apparel imports from Bangladesh has been stunning, industry experts said.


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