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Bangladesh Garment Exports Rise With No Signs of Slowing

Bangladesh has been living the better part of the last few years plagued with concerns about safety in its ready-made garment industry. But despite those concerns, garment exports have been steadily on the rise.

The country is on track to meet its fiscal year target of $27.37 billion as total exports have already surpassed $25 billion and a few weeks still remain before the June 30 fiscal year end.

That’s up from $22.92 billion in fiscal 2014-15, $22.18 billion in 2013-14 and $19.31 billion in 2012-13.

“Exports to the U.S. for the 2015-16 fiscal year have grown 9 percent,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) vice president Mahmud Hasan Khan told Sourcing Journal at a meeting in Dhaka.

Sector improvements—and it’s always arguable that there’s room for more—have helped some brands regain their confidence in sourcing from Bangladesh.

H&M gives the country the most business in terms of volume, and Inditex, Walmart, C&A, Bestseller and VF hold a bulk of the garment production share there, too.

Admittedly, some factories had been in pretty bad shape, Khan said, but after nearly 4,000 factory inspections, just 39 were closed because of immediate risks. Remediation for those that remain open has been slightly slow for lack of funding, but steady nonetheless. The Alliance also said in April that factory fires in Bangladesh have dropped by more than 90 percent.

“Our hope is that by the end of 2017 we would like to complete this remediation,” Khan said.

Bangladesh’s goal for garment exports is to reach $50 billion by 2021, which means growth would have to be at least 12 percent each year. If the country can achieve that goal, its share of the apparel market will jump from a present 5 percent to 8 percent, according to Khan.