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BD among five top apparel exporters under US scanners

MONIRA MUNNI | January 21, 2024 00:00:00

Bangladesh is among five Asian apparel-manufacturing countries coming under a new US fact-finding investigation into industry status and export competitiveness.

The other garment-exporting countries to be under US scanner include India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Pakistan, according to the US International Trade Commission (USITC).

Earlier on December 20 last year, the US Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter to the Commission had requested for conducting an investigation and preparing a report on the export- competitiveness status of the apparel industries in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan-all currently leading clothing suppliers to the US market.

Bangladesh is the third-largest apparel exporter to the USA after China and Vietnam, according to the

US Department of Commerce's Office of Textile and Apparel (OTEXA) data.

During the January-to- November period of 2023, the United States imported apparel worth US$15.21 billion from China, US$ 13.17 billion from Vietnam and US$6.79 billion from Bangladesh.

India stands as the fourth largest in apparel export to the US with a turnover of US$4.18 billion followed by Indonesia with US$ 3.91 billion and Cambodia US$3.07 billion.

Pakistan exported US$1.85 billion worth of apparel during the period of 2023 to the USA, according to OTEXA data.

The USITC will prepare a public report that will provide a comparison of the relative US market shares held by these five garment-exporting countries at present and five and ten years ago, according to its statement.

The investigators will also analyse the changing patterns in market shares and trade, including against other top suppliers, noting any significant shifts.

Expected to be submitted to the USTR by August 30 this year, the report on findings will offer country-specific profiles of the apparel industries in the countries, including information on investment, vertical integration, duty-free access to the US market, wages and labour productivity and sourcing of inputs.

To be assessed are the export competitiveness of each country in the US market considering major factors like trade, industry structure, price and costs, product differentiation and reliability, the USITC said.

The USITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation on March 7.

Asked about the move of the economic superpower, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Faruque Hassan said there is nothing to be 'worried' about the probe as the report would be prepared on five countries among which Bangladesh is one.

"Improvements take place if there is surveillance," he told the FE on Saturday, about possible positive outcome to come out of the spot checks on industry health.

He rules out the possibility of any connection of the proposed investigation with the US presidential memorandum that, purportedly, portends trade restrictions.

The export-industry leader informs that his team is working on the issue and they will sit shortly as he had already talked to government high officials over the US step.

On November 16 last year, US President Joe Biden signed in a memorandum pledging to ensure advancing working empowerment, labour rights, and high labour standards globally.

Elaborating on the memorandum, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that sanctions, trade embargoes and visa bans would be imposed on individuals who threaten, intimidate or attack labour-union leaders, labour-rights activists and labour organisations.

Later on November 20 last, the Bangladesh embassy in Washington in a letter sent in to the commerce secretary interpreted the US presidential memorandum as a "signal" of potential action from the economic superpower that could touch Bangladesh, too.

The diplomatic mission forewarned that the government should take the memorandum into cognizance to avert any possible consequence on the country's RMG sector.

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