Dwindling exports hit Bangladesh economy

DHAKA, April 13, 2009 (AFP) – Export growth for Bangladesh’s crucial garments sector has ground to a halt as a result of the global financial crisis, threatening to pull down the rest of the economy, experts said.

Clothing manufacture underpins impoverished Bangladesh’s industrial activity, accounting for 80 percent of overseas sales and pulling in 11 billion dollars a year.

“What started as the best year for us has suddenly vanished due to the global meltdown,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, head of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Export orders are evaporating as the appetite for made-in-Bangladesh goods falls in the country’s main US and European markets as customers tighten their belts.

At the start of Bangladesh’s financial year in July, garment exports were up 72 percent from a year earlier, but by February growth had slowed to four percent year-on-year as orders from Western retailers evaporated.

“The whole economy can unravel if garment exports continue to slow down as many other sectors such as transport, services and construction are directly dependent on this sector,” said Masato Miyazaki, an IMF adviser on Bangladesh.

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