Despite having huge opportunities in the global market, Bangladesh is yet to tap its trade potentials by exporting diversified products.
Several studies suggest that Bangladesh can earn an additional $20 billion a year by exporting diversified products to its existing markets.
According to a recent study conducted by Economic Relations Division (ERD), around $18 billion worth of export potentials remain unexplored in 10 major export destinations.
Germany, US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Japan, Netherlands and Canada can be the major destinations from where Bangladesh can fetch an additional $18 billion a year in export earnings.
According to the ERD report, RMG, leather, pharmaceuticals, plastics, footwear and shrimp sector have the potential to bag another $18.34 billion in addition to the current export earnings of $31.21 billion a year.
Another study of Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) found that Bangladesh can add $4 billion to its export earnings from the Chinese market.
Experts and sector leaders think Bangladesh has huge potentials in export earnings from major export destinations. As the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ theme has already become popular globally, it is possible to add another $20 billion to the country’s export basket.
For that, they said Bangladesh needs to have a roadmap. Diversification of export products is one of the major challenges in tapping the additional earnings from exports, they said.
If Bangladesh can diversify its product base, maintain the quality of products and respond to the global lifestyle trend, the country can tap many opportunities in global potential, they said, adding that Bangladesh still depends on the RMG sector.
“Time has come to put more focus on other products like jute and jute goods, leather, plastics frozen foods and other potential products,” they added.
Faruque Hassan, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the apparel makers are putting efforts to explore non-traditional markets along with the traditional markets. They are also focusing on product diversity, innovation and unlocking new markets as well.
BGMEA is intensely working with the government to set up an innovation and design centre for products diversification. With that, it is also focusing on boosting the production of non-cotton man-made fibre (MMF) items.
Bangladesh still depends on cotton-based items which accounts for 70 per cent of the total RMG export. But, the world is shifting to MMF bases products.
“If we can boost the production of non-cotton man-made fibre (MMF) items, it will unlock endless potentials for Bangladesh as the MMF products have been dominating the global market for the last couple of years,” he said,
If the government provides incentives on MMF product-making, it is possible to add another $20 billion export in the next five years, he added.
Leather goods and Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) president Md Saiful Islam said leather products have a huge prospect in global but Bangladesh is facing a drawback since the shifting of tanneries to Savar.
Due to the lack of Leather Working Group (LWG) certification, Bangladesh is not getting proper space in the global market, added Saiful Islam.
The LFMEAB President said China is a major source of Bangladeshi leather and leather goods. Though China offers duty-free access for many Bangladeshi products, leather goods face some non-tariff barriers in the Chinese market.
If this can be settled and Bangladeshi leather goods are promoted in the global market, the sector can double its exports, he added.
According to a study, Bangladesh has the scope to export an additional $3.2 billion worth of goods to the US market besides the current $6.3 billion. It also suggests that Bangladesh has the scope to increase its export volume by another $3.6 billion to Germany, $2.2 billion to the UK, $1.7 billion to Spain, $1.9 billion to France, $1.2 billion to Poland, $1.3 billion to Italy, $1.6 billion to the Netherlands, $500 million to Canada and $800 million to Japan.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, Bangladesh fetched $38.75 billion from exports in the 2020-21 fiscal year amid the pandemic.
The apparel sector has been contributing around 81 per cent to the country’s total export earnings although Bangladesh exports a total of 31 types of products to over 200 countries across the world.