The lion’s share of the country’s foreign exchange earnings comes from the garments sector that accounted for 83.5 percent of total exports in the just-concluded fiscal.
In the 2017-18 fiscal, the goods exports were to the tune of $36.67 billion while the non-apparel goods’ contribution was only $6.05 billion, or 16.50 percent of the total.
Analysts expressed concern on the figure while marking the risk of depending on only one product.
There has not been much headway in expansion of the country’s export basket despite various government efforts, they said.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, executive director at Centre for Policy Dialogue, believes the country should go for diversification of export to minimise the risk of dependency on only one product (garments).
Besides, boosting new products for export diversification is the key to employment generation and higher foreign exchange earnings, he added.
Rahman, however, appreciated the emphasis given on garment exports saying, the country has scope to do more in the apparel sector.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau, RMG attained 8.76 percent export growth rate in the outgoing fiscal, whereas other sectors could not hold the momentum.
Moreover, some products such as frozen and live fish faced negative export growth, decreasing 3.42 percent in comparison to that in the previous fiscal, while petroleum by-products fell 86.18 percent, plastic products 15.79 percent, rubber 9.21 percent, leather and leather products 12.03 percent, wood and wood products 17.85 percent, printed materials 27.17 percent, silk 100 percent, carpet 2.86 percent, glass & glassware 41.04 percent, engineering products 48.32 percent, ships, boats & floating structures 54.20 percent and other manufactured products faced 7.92 percent fall.
In contrast, some products had higher growth rate, but they were not significant in quantity.
This category includes agricultural products that saw 21.79 percent growth while Cement, salt, stone etc witnesses 16.68 percent, handicrafts 15.26 percent, cotton & cotton products 14.03, wigs & human hair 17.63 percent, building materials 233.90 percent and ceramic products 32.70 percent.
On the other hand, jute & jute goods kept the momentum and witnessed nearly 7 percent year-on-year rise.
However, an analysis shows the overall export growth stood 5.81 percent depending on RMG growth, while other exports could not reach significant amounts.
Saleh Uddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said the main reason behind getting stuck in limited product exports, is lack of motivation of entrepreneurs.
He told Bangladesh Post, motivation would not work among new entrepreneurs, unlike the RMG sector, as all the products are not getting cash incentives on exports and cannot be funded from Export Development Fund.
Besides, Saleh Uddin emphasised tax rebate on raw materials and backward linkage industries to support exports so that exporters can survive competition.
To diversify exports, the government should help small and medium entrepreneurs produce quality products and raise the export items in the world market, said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters Association.
He suggested that small entrepreneurs be given low-interest bank loans and cash incentives on exports.
Besides, completion of the specialised economic zone and export processing zone, now under development, will boost sector-wise exports, he hoped.