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What Fires? Bangladesh Garment Makers Export $27 Billion

New numbers from Bangladesh’s Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) indicate that despite a series of tragedies within its garment sector, the country’s export industry earned just over $27 billion in the last fiscal year, growing 11.18%. The earnings did, however, fail to meet the country’s target–$28 billion.

As Bangladesh’s main source of export-generated income, garment exports played a predictably central role in annual earnings. The vast majority of Bangladeshi exports–over 79%–were of readymade garments, which earned the country $21.52 billion in profits, and grew 12.71% year on year. Even with such impressive growth, readymade garment sales fell short of profit goals, which had been set at $21.54 billion.

“In spite of the adversities like the Rana Plaza collapse, Tazreen fire and political unrest, the sector showed a strong growth,” Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told The Daily Star. “It is simply down to our price competitiveness,” he added.

Bangladesh’s competitive prices seem to have protected their garment industry, even as it has attracted worldwide negative publicity following the tragic factory fire at Tazreen Fashions in November, and more recently the Rana Plaza fire in April, which left 1,126 dead and some 2,500 injured. The U.S. suspended trade privileges with Bangladesh in late June, citing concerns over labor rights and worker safety, but garment exports will be mostly unaffected. Bangladesh has also expanded its export business to markets in Asia, South Africa, South America, Central America, Australia and New Zealand this year.

“The disasters didn’t have much impact,” Shuvhashish Bose, the head of EPB told the AFP. “They are scattered incidents.”