Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh’s export earnings grew by 10.16 per cent during the first nine months of fiscal year (FY) 2012-13 amid the ongoing political turmoil and global recession.
Exporters, however, said though the earnings have been showing an upward trend over the months, the country’s export might bear the brunt of the ongoing political impasse in the months ahead, especially in the next fiscal year.
Merchandise shipments stood at US$19.704 billion in July-March of FY `13, up from $ 17.88 billion during the same period of FY `12, though it missed the target by 2.40 percent, according to the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) statistics.
Exporters and government officials termed the growth ‘much more than satisfactory’ considering the overall situation including political unrest, financial meltdown in major destinations, shortage of power and higher bank interest.
The single month earnings stood at $ 2.30 billion, marking a robust growth of 16.20 per cent in March compared to that of 2012. But the growth missed the target set for the month by 6.29 per cent.
Except August and November of 2012, the single month earning during the current fiscal year surpassed the target.
Knitwear fetched $ 7.58 billion, showing 8.44 percent growth during July-March of the current fiscal compared to the same period of the last fiscal while woven garments accounted for $ 8.09 billion, marking a healthy growth of 13.81 per cent, the EPB data showed.
Earnings from woven surpassed the targets by 0.20 and 2.69 per cent during the period while knit sector witnessed a negative growth by 0.83 per cent. 
“Despite the recession, the 10.16 cent growth is not only satisfactory but more than satisfactory, thanks to the efforts to diversify the destinations and products,” an EPB senior official said. 
Diversification of products and markets, especially garment markets like Japan, China, Russia, Latin America and Africa also plays the major role behind the growth, the EPB official said adding that other sectors like jute and jute goods, footwear also draw demand and orders from developed and developing countries. 
Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said the growth could be higher if there is no political turbulence in the country.
“Export is going on despite hartals, strikes but we are paying a huge number of additional money for air shipment to meet the deadline,” he said adding “We are also facing crises like discount, cancellation of orders and deferred payment.”
“The export data does not portray the real picture,” Fazlul Hoque, former president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said adding it only shows the earnings but not the expenditures, the increasing cost of production.
Both the BGMEA and BKMEA leaders said the sectors will face a blow in the coming months as they are getting less order than their expectations.
“We are worried about the next spring and summer seasons orders which are expected to be placed during March to May,” the BGMEA chief said adding buyers are worried about the timely shipment due to the recent political instability.
“The main problem is that the ongoing political activities send a negative massage of the country resulting an image crisis of us,” Mr Hoque said
“The growth will continue further if there is no political instability which is also damaging the country’s image. This will cause the buyers to shift to other destinations,” Md Hatem, vice president of BKMEA said.
Earnings from jute and jute goods stood at $ 765.42 million in July-March period of the current fiscal, marking a growth of 7.72 per cent compared to that of the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
The frozen food sector faced a negative growth of nearly 17 per cent during the first nine months of the current fiscal over that in the corresponding period of the last fiscal, and it also fell short of the target by 21.42 per cent.
Agricultural products export grew by 31.20 per cent, pharmaceuticals by 27.83 per cent, leather by 14.99 per cent, leather goods by 75.92 per cent, handicrafts by 28.08 per cent, footwear by 19.41 per cent, furniture by 20.33 per cent and engineering products by 8.86 per cent during the July-March of FY 2012-13.
BBN/SSR/AD-09Apr13-10:17 am (BST)