Three Asian nations -- India, China and Japan -- are fast emerging as major apparel export destinations for Bangladesh after a jump in orders in the immediate past fiscal year.
For instance, Japan became the first country in Asia to receive more than $1 billion of apparel shipments from Bangladesh last fiscal year.
Bangladesh exported garment items worth $1.09 billion to Japan in fiscal 2018-19, up 28.90 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
The reasons for the continuous rise in garment exports to Japan -- a country with a $45 billion garment market -- are its “China plus one” strategy adopted in 2008 and its zero-duty benefit to Bangladesh as a least developed country.
Currently, nearly 80 percent of the demand for apparel is met by Chinese manufacturers, said industry insiders.
And Japan is keen to reduce the dependence on China. The China plus one policy promotes shifting of production from China to other nations such as Bangladesh.
Similarly, garment exports to India swelled 79.09 percent year-on-year to $499.09 million last fiscal year.
Since 2011 Bangladesh has been enjoying duty-free benefit, which prompted many international retailers like H&M, Zara, Mango, Marks & Spencer that have presence in India to source directly from Bangladesh for the stores.
China, the largest garment supplier worldwide, has been turning into a major export destination for Bangladesh too as it looks to shift production of more sophisticated and heavy items. Garment export from Bangladesh to China grew 29.33 percent year-on-year to $506.51 million last fiscal year.
Bangladesh’s garment manufacturers too are pushing to widen their business with China for its geographical proximity and better prices.
Furthermore, Bangladeshi exporters enjoy duty-free access for 4,721 products including garment.
“The stimulus package from the government for exporting to new market looks to be working,” said Mohiuddin Rubel, a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Moreover, the Asian markets are closer to Bangladesh geographically, which ensures shorter lead time -- crucial in the era of fast fashion, he added.