Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh’s knitwear manufacturers are planning to explore potential overseas markets in Africa as a delegation is expected to visit South Africa and Botswana early next month to search for buyers.

“We’re working to diversify our export market. A delegation of knitwear manufacturers would go on a week-long visit to South Africa and Botswana on October 4 this year,” President of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BKMEA) Fazlul Hoque told BBN in Dhaka on Sunday.

Bangladesh exported woven and knitwear garments worth US$42.51 million to South Africa and $280,000 to the Botswana in the fiscal 2008-09, according to the sate-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) statistics.

The market in South Africa, a mineral-rich country, is very prospective for Bangladesh as their garment manufacturers have been switching over to heavy industries due to rising labour costs following their economic boom.

The BKMEA chief also said South Africa will need to import garment products shortly as their ready-made garment (RMG) units are turning into heavy industries. “We want to tap the market.”

Currently, China is the major apparel supplier to the South African markets along with a small share of Mauritius and India.

During the visit in South Africa and Botswana from October 4-10, they would sit with businessmen, trade bodies and garment buyers and give presentation on Bangladesh’s RMG products and manufacturing strengths, he noted.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-20September09-5:40 pm (BST)