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Bangladesh Exports Dip for First Time Since 2012

Bangladesh, whose exports have been relatively stable despite setbacks over subpar garment sector safety, saw its exports dip 1.37% in July to $2.98 billion, 2 percent below the expected target, according to the country’s Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Ready-made garments, including knitwear and woven items–which account for 84 percent of Bangladesh’s overall exports–totaled $2.517 billion in July, nearly flat to last year July’s $2.516 billion.

Knitwear exports totaled $1.31 billion, a 4.32% jump over the same period last year. Exports of woven garments, however, which totaled $1.21 billion in July, declined 4.14% over last year.

Bangladesh’s total exports for the year to June reached $30 billion, an 11 percent bump from last year owed to stronger garment sector sales. The EPB expects exports to rise 10 percent to $33.2 billion in the 2014-15 financial year, and Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said at an EPB meeting in Dhaka Monday, “We’re hopeful of achieving the export target,” the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Garment exports for 2014-15 are also expected to see a 10 percent jump to $26.9 billion, up from last year’s $24.5 billion.

Bangladesh relies heavily on its ready-made garment sector and its low-wage labor has yet to be beat elsewhere, which keeps price conscious buyers coming. But tragedies like the Tazreen factory fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse, which together killed thousands, marred the country’s reputation, and that coupled with consistent wage strikes, has hindered growth in the sector.