Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Voicing deep concern at the fresh spell of countrywide shutdown calls, apparel sector’s trade bodies — BGMEA and BKMEA — on Sunday said the exporters had to count additional losses of around BDT 2.50 billion because of air shipments due to strikes in January and February alone. 
“Export orders worth US$ 2.2 million of 15 factories have so far been cancelled due to frequent strikes …timely shipments of export goods worth US$ 7.8 million through seaway have become uncertain also because of shutdowns,” they said in a joint statement.
It also said the buyers demanded about US$ 0.7 million discount as the exporters failed to make the shipments timely (due to hartal) while the exporters had to count air freights worth US$ 1.71 million.  
The BNP-led 18-party and Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh separately called strikes for three days from Monday.  
“For the sake of the national economy, especially to save the RMG sector, BGMEA and BKMEA request the political parties concerned to call the strikes off,” the statement said. 
The trade bodies urged the political parties to look for alternative and peaceful political programs to strikes, generally known as hartals. 
The statement said many exporters have been facing problems like air freight, discount, cancellation and deferred payment following the hartals. 
The exporters said many people would simply turn jobless overnight if the existence of the country’s readymade garment sector is endangered for reasons like political instability. 
The country’s present economy does not have the strength to endure the burden of joblessness of a large number of people, they said.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said hartal will impede the growth, discourage investment, and slow down export putting employment at risk.
The statement noted that the export-oriented garment industries in the country have already been affected badly due to the global economic downtrend and gas and electricity crises.
It said the economy will be hit hard by frequent strikes and it will not be able to overcome the losses as over 4.0 million people directly and 40 million indirectly involved in the RMG sector. 
The BGMEA and the BKMEA think that Bangladesh is maintaining a stable economic growth as a stable political environment is essential to maintain its continuation.
BBN/SSR/AD-08Apr13-11:53 am (BST)