The country’s apparel exports to India have registered a 10.6 per cent growth in the July–August period of FY2019–20 due to the growing number of retail stores and fashion-conscious consumers in India, say experts. Earnings from readymade garments (RMG) exports to neighbouring India amounted to $112.64 mn in the July–August period of FY2019–20, up from the $101.84 mn earned during the same period in FY2018–19. This represents a growth of 10.60 per cent within a one-year period.

Former Director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Mohammed Nasir, said that the rise in export earnings was the outcome of Indian business giants like Reliance and Tata entering into the apparel business and setting up retail chain stores all across the country. Nasir, who is also Managing Director of Masud Apparels Ltd, explained that this has opened up an opportunity for Bangladesh to act as their prominent supplier. “Famous international retail brands like Zara and H&M have established their businesses in India and we are their biggest supplier,” he added.

“Other reasons are that the Indian domestic market has grown and the number of fashion conscious-consumers has increased. We import the raw material for RMG, such as cotton and machinery, from India. So, their exports are increasing as well. It is a win-win situation for both countries,” he said. It is a good indication that exports to major destinations, including India, have picked up, said Nasir. “India and China are our biggest markets because both countries have shifted their manual industries to high-tech industries and their wages have been increasing, eventually pushing up the production cost,” he elaborated. “We are closer to the Indian market than to the European and American markets.

So, there is a huge opportunity for us to penetrate the Indian market in future. The shipment time from Bangladesh to India is only four hours,” he added. It is a good sign that exports to India are on the rise as the quality of products has increased. But there is still a huge opportunity to penetrate the market, for India imports goods worth $450 bin from other countries, Nasir added. Meanwhile, the remediation work for more than 95 per cent of all factory buildings have been completed, and the requirements of Accord and Alliance—the platform of two western buyers—have been fulfilled, Nasir said. RMG products fetched earnings of $34.13 bn in FY2018–19, marking a growth of 11.49 per cent from the $30.61 bn earned in FY2017–18.