Bangladesh's export earnings have experienced a sudden fall of over 11% to $3.48 billion year-on-year in July, the first month of the current fiscal year, according to data released by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) on Tuesday.
The slump was caused by a massive decrease in apparel shipments during the Eid-ul-Adha vacation and the ongoing lockdown, industry insiders say.
Apparel exports had, however, shown a remarkable 37% growth in the first three weeks of July, taking earnings to $2.22 billion until 19 July from $1.66 billion of the same period last year, according to data compiled by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
In July, Bangladesh exported apparel items worth $2.88 billion, which is over 83% of the country's total export receipts, while earnings amounted to $3.24 billion in the same month a year ago.
According to the EPB, the decline in exports of all the top sectors, except for leather and leather products, has had a negative impact on the overall export earnings.
In July, leather and leather goods earned $90.52 million in contrast to $89.94 million in the same month of last year.
Vegetables, wigs and human hair, waste plastic, headgear and cap products have also shown positive growth, which was not enough to protect the overall fall.
Faruque Hassan, president of the BGMEA, said, "We missed a chance to gain record export earnings in July because of the closure of factory operations amid the ongoing lockdown despite having a significant volume of work orders."
The exports will rebound in the coming days, he said, adding, "We are very optimistic to do better in August."
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said, "We now need support from all government agencies to boost export earnings."
In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh had exported goods amounting to $38.75 billion amid the pandemic. The commerce ministry has set a target of $43.5 billion for the current fiscal year.
According to the EPB, exports of agricultural products declined by 2.88% to $98.15 million, from $101.06 million in the same month of last year.
Home textile product exports raked in $92.36 million, which was 1.76% lower than in July last year.
In the first month of this year, frozen and live fish exports dropped to $36.8 million from $42.52 million in the same month a year ago.
Jute and jute goods earned $2.46 million with a 28% negative growth and export earnings of engineering products dropped by about 41% to $33.03 million, which was $56.08 million in the same month of last year.