DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh expects to treble its textiles exports to $25 billion over the next five years at the expense of China and India, which have to cope with rising currencies, a top business leader said on Wednesday.
The Bangladesh taka has traded around 68.5 per dollar since the middle of 2007.
But China’s yuan has risen 8.6 percent and India’s rupee has gained more than 2 percent over the same period. Both currencies are expected to continue rallying, which makes exports more expensive for buyers in other countries.
“China and India are our major competitors and we have proved our ability by beating them both in price and quality in some categories which will help us to sustain our export growth,” said Anwarul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“We are receiving huge orders from buyers and quite confident to achieve a rapid export growth in future,” Parvez said in an interview.
Sales of Bangladeshi knitted cotton trousers, a major export item, to the United States were higher than similar sales by China for the first time in January, he said.
“Due to weak prices of taka compared with strong currencies of China and India, Bangladeshi items are available at a cheaper rate,” Parvez said.
He said that Bangladesh would earn $11 billion by exporting ready-made garments in fiscal 2007-08 (July-June) compared with $9 billion a year earlier.
But Parvez also cited a number of challenges for the sector which include “image problems abroad for both the country and the industry, a lack of skilled manpower, social issues and weak infrastructure.”
Bangladesh has been rated as one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
Parvez said a number of areas had been improved in the garment industry, including the elimination of child labour, increased safety for workers and improved sanitation.
“Now we are proud that the garment industries no longer have any child labour, but still we have to address a number of social issues, a new challenge,” he said.
Parvez said that the sector would add another 1.4 million workers over the next five years totalling 3.6 million, more than 80 percent of them women.
Bangladesh has set an overall export target of $14.5 billion for 2007/2008 fiscal year, up 19 percent from the previous year.