Garment shipments to India, a country with a $50 billion apparel market, more than doubled in the first 11 months of the fiscal year -- in a promising development for Bangladesh's manufacturers.
Between July last year and May this year, apparel items worth $253.07 million were shipped to the neighbouring country, in contrast to $117.21 million a year earlier, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
The reason for the exponential rise is bulk purchase by Western brands with operations in India and Indian clothing chains, which are finding Bangladesh's garment items to be more competitively priced for India's bulging middle-class demographic.
Like in previous years, woven garment shipments outnumbered knitwear as the demand for formal shirts is high in the country packed with office-going executives.
Between July and May, $187.37 million worth of woven garment items were shipped to India and $65.70 million worth of knitwear products, EPB data showed.
“Garment export from our factory to India is increasing every year. But the receipts are still very low,” said Mohammad Hasan, executive director of Babylon Group, a leading garment exporter.
Apart from Indian retailers like Tata, Reliance and Arvind, Western brands like H&M, Zara and Mango are sourcing garment items from Bangladesh in bulk quantity.
“We see India as an emerging market for us,” Hasan said.
In the next few years, garment exports to India might cross the $1 billion-mark, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Were garment afforded the privilege of duty-free access to India, the receipts would have hit $1 billion by now.
Bangladeshi garment exporters face 12.5 percent countervailing duty for shipment to India, although India announced duty-free facility on all Bangladeshi products except some alcoholic and beverage items in 2012.
Overall, exports to India increased 24.67 percent year-on-year to $792.88 million in the July-May period.