Denim fabrics and its diversified products have become the leading products for the homegrown exporter of Bangladesh. The country has turned into a hot spot for denim products in global markets. Bangladesh, the second largest producer of denim products after China, is exporting denim products approximately 250 million pieces every year all over the world mostly in the EU and US market. To produce denim products the monthly demand for denim fabric is about 80 million yards and the sector is able to meet about 50 to 60% locally. Rest of the fabrics are imported from different countries.
Bangladesh denim sector
According to the Bangladesh Textile Mill Association (BTMA), Bangladesh currently has 31 denim fabric manufacturing factories, which produce over 400.40 million meters of fabrics every year. In addition, there are around 400 denim product manufacturers in the country. According to people involved in the denim sector, Bangladesh has already made an investment of Tk15,000 crore in denim fabrics manufacturing.
The major global retailers in the world to which Bangladesh supplies denim products are H&M, Uniqlo, Tesco, Walmart, Levi’s, Diesel, Wrangler, G-Star, s.Oliver, Hugo Boss, and Gap.
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Denim export scenario
Bangladesh’s denim manufacturers have seen a strong upsurge in the export of denim products in the markets of the US and European Union (EU) beating its biggest competitor, China. Exported denim products include Blue Denim Trousers WG, Blue Denim Trousers MB, Blue Denim Skirts, Blue Denim Jackets, Blue Denim Suit Type Coats MB, Playsuits and Sun suits etc.
With a 14.20% market share, Bangladesh now is also the third largest exporter of denim products in the US after Mexico and China. From January-September period of 2018, the country saw a 14.20% rise in export earning i.e. $419.21 million, which was $367.10 million during the same period of 2017. US Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) released the data recently.
On the other hand, China earned 1.3% more than 2017 summing up a $683 million export earnings, while Mexico has seen a 1.08% increase in export from 2017 to $595.40 million. Vietnam, a close competitor of Bangladesh in the US market earned 41.95% more i.e. $205.43 million which was $144.72 million during 2017. While Cambodia saw a 30.85% rise in export to $88.34 million.
According to statistics from the Directorate-General of the European Commission, Eurostat, Bangladesh has earned €917.14 million from exporting denim products to EU countries during January-August period of 2018, which is 4.23% higher from exports earned in the corresponding period of last year.
The ability to supply denim fabrics at a competitive price has helped the country to gain great global market access. The growth of denim in terms of production, export, and investment marked a 30-35% rise in the local market over the last three years as almost all major textile producers have been producing denim especially since 2005 after the withdrawal of the quota system.
Denim is a fabric made of cotton twill that is 100% cotton and very comfortable. This fabric is used all over the world to make jeans, jackets, shirts, purses, bags, and many other accessories for men and women of all ages.
Reasons behind the growth
Improved technology in fabrics manufacturing, improvement of safety standards in the apparel sector and the trade war between China and the US are the main reasons for Bangladesh’s steady growth in exports earnings.
In the EU and USA markets, Bangladeshi denim products are doing much better for its quality and competitive price rates. In recent time, production cost in China and other countries have gone up due to a wage hike. As a result, EU and USA buyers are moving to Bangladesh for sourcing denim products.
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After the announcement of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), US retailers wanted to go to different manufacturers for sourcing apparel goods, rather than Bangladesh. However, they changed their decision after US president Donald Trump dismissed the idea of joining the TPP.
On the other hand, Bangladesh has increased its production capacity in both denim fabrics manufacturing and other denim products. The Bangladeshi manufacturers have also moved to introduce latest technologies for improved quality of products. In recent times, Bangladesh has seen the establishment of state of the art denim fabrics manufacturing plants, which has increased production capacity. This has helped to attract more work orders from the US and EU buyers.
Strengths of Bangladesh denim sector
Figure: Strengths of Bangladesh denim sector.
There is no such unified, safe and secure sector in the world other than Bangladesh. That is why, Alliance for Bangladesh Workers, a platform of American buyers has certified Bangladesh as a safe place, which also boosted buyers’ confidence for sourcing products from here.
The US is the single largest importer of clothing products and China is the largest exporters of apparel goods in the world. The trade war between these two giants has brought a number of orders for Bangladeshi denim manufacturers.
Experts said that Chinese products are becoming costlier due to the rise in workers’ wage. As the trade war between China and the US is a threat for the US importers over duty imposition. Bangladesh is benefitting the most from this trade conflict. At the same time, while China is shutting down factories due to a rise in pollution so, ultimately these work orders will go to Bangladesh, Vietnam or Cambodia.
Bangladesh government is setting up the ‘Sheikh Hasina Specialized Jute Textile Mill’ in 34 acres of land at Kamariya Char in Madarganj. The factory will be able to export 4,32,000 dozens of denim pants every year. Besides, 2,13,40,00 gauze of denim and other fabrics can be produced, which can be supplied to the garment factory of the country at a reasonable price. However, it has more demand of denim products and fabrics but we are supplying less right now. For the scarcity of own raw materials, technological inefficiency, efficient port services, and skilled manpower the sector is facing several challenges. To overcome the remaining challenges local millers are trying hard. However, at the same time, the Bangladesh government has to prioritize the denim sector and provide maximum support to the entrepreneurs.