Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh’s exports to the European Union (EU) in 2011 reached a new record with earnings of 8.5 billion euro (about US$ 11 billion).
This has exceeded the previous record in 2010, when Bangladesh exports to the EU had been 5.5 billion euro, of which about 87 percent consists of readymade garments. 
The huge increase in exports was possible owing to the relaxation of rules of origin for Bangladesh that entered into force from January 2011, an EU press statement said on Tuesday.
EU Ambassador William Hanna said this to the BGMEA leaders when they paid a courtesy call on at the EU Delegation on Monday.
The BGMEA delegation led by its President M. Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, thanked the EU for duty and quota free access of the Bangladeshi products to the EU market and for the recent relaxation of rules of origin. 
The BGMEA President admitted that the European Union is the biggest export destination for Bangladesh. 
The BGMEA delegation members, however, expressed concern that the recent economic difficulties in the EU may have a negative impact on future exports from Bangladesh. 
The delegation also conveyed their apprehension that the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is under negotiation, could lead to the erosion of Bangladesh’s preferential edge in the EU.
Ambassador Hanna agreed that the EU is now passing through a difficult time which poses a challenge to Bangladesh to adjust its business strategy.
He emphasized on diversification, improvement in productivity through skills development, and maintenance of quality to remain competitive in the EU market. 
The ambassador informed the BGMEA representatives about different trade-related technical assistance grants to Bangladesh which have already improved its trade capacity. 
BBN/SSR/AD-17Apr12-8:50 pm (BST)