Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged garment and jute entrepreneurs to diversify their exports. Hasina also encouraged exporters to tap new markets and bring more foreign exchange into the national economy.
Garment exports have been growing, and the national has a favorable investment climate, but the sector is struggling with safety and labor issues. As with any undiversified economy, Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable to short term market shifts, such as the 2011 cotton price spike, or recessionary trends in apparel buying among western consumers. Other major exports include leather, shrimp, pharmaceuticals, and ceramics.
Commerce Minister GM Quader pushed producers to improve quality and to market goods more strategically. He pointed out that the current highly competitive environment demands more. He also wants Bangladesh to improve its value added exports, which are in higher demand and can bring in more revenue.
The country has an export target of $28 billion for the fiscal year that runs through June 30th, and is on track to achieve it. Over half of those exports are garment related.
Several firms, including H&M, have expressed a desire to improve the lot of ordinary Bangladeshis by deepening their commitment to the country. Improvements in wages and a more educated workforce could help the nation shift to more valuable products.
The government has also started helping reinvigorate the jute industry in the country, as global demand is on the rise. Hassani and Quader spoke at the 18th Dhaka International Trade Fair, organized by the Commerce Ministry and Export Promotion Bureau.