The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) estimates that apparel exports will fetch around $33.7 billion in the 2021-22 financial year as the US and the EU economies rebound with mass vaccinations.
The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) estimates the figure will be $35 billion.
Numbers reveal that in 11 months of the current fiscal year, Bangladesh exported $28.56 billion worth of readymade garments.
The BGMEA projects the figure will reach $31.2 billion at the end of June. About 54% of this will come from knitwear, and 46% from woven garments.
Besides, in 11 months since July last year, knitwear exports have grown by more than 20.5%, and woven exports by less than 2%.
Mohammad Hatem, the first vice-president of the BKMEA, has written to the commerce ministry that knitwear exports will rise by 15% in the next financial year.
Exporters estimate knitwear exports will reach $16.77 billion at the end of the current fiscal year. The BKMEA estimates the figure will exceed $19 billion in the upcoming financial year.
But the BGMEA estimates woven exports will grow by 7%, and knitwear exports by 9%, next year. Overall, it expects an 8% growth in clothing exports.
The EPB has estimated 10% growth in the apparel sector in the new financial year, with 11% growth in knitwear exports and 9% in woven exports.
The commerce ministry and the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) set export targets when the financial year begins. They have asked for export targets from export associations.
BGMEA leaders say woven export earnings could reach around $14.5 billion at the end of this month. They estimate the figure will rise by $1 billion in the next fiscal year.
They also predict garments exports will be in full swing from October this year.
Hatem told The Business Standard they expect garment exports to increase if the pandemic situation in the country and in the export markets remains under control.
He said the Covid-19 situation is largely under control in major export destinations in the developed world and their economies are gradually rebounding.
Overall, the BKMEA estimates knitwear exports will grow by 15% in the next financial year, he added.
But BGMEA Vice-president Md Shahidullah Azim thinks knitwear export growth would not be this high.
He told The Business Standard garment exports could grow by 8% to $33.7 billion in the next financial year and of this, knitwear could grow by 9%, and woven by 7%.
Garment exports fell by about $6 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year compared to the previous year, he said.
He also said the market is still unstable and garment exports in the current fiscal year could reach $31.2 billion.
"The market will hopefully start rebounding in October. We estimate growth will be 8% higher compared to this year."
EPB figures show Bangladesh exported $27.95 billion worth of garments in FY2019-20, which was 18.12% less than the previous fiscal year.
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, when the situation was normal, garment exports amounted to $34.13 billion. The BGMEA estimates exports will be close to this figure if the situation does not worsen further in the next financial year.
Shahidullah said exports would not reach EPB's estimates. "We have estimated based on reality."
Asked why there is such a big gap between the BGMEA and the BKMEA estimates, he said so far knitwear exports had increased but would not grow at a high rate now.
Woven exports may rise as markets reopen, he added.
BKMEA Director Fazlee Shamim Ehsan said they think the demand for knitwear would be good next year as well.
Overall, Bangladesh is still a relatively good option for brands to buy garments from, he added.