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Bangladesh gains strong footholds in PPE export market

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Special Correspondent :
Bangladesh earned Tk 4,500 crore from export of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 71 countries in the last few months taking advantage of the rising demand for such products in global market amid Covid-19 pandemic, industry insiders said.
The development brings new hope for the local apparel manufacturers who have been hit hard by the unprecedented slump in the global demand due to coronavirus outbreak that forced economies to shutter to halt the spread of the infection.
Currently, 45 local apparel units are producing international standard PPEs and shipping those products to international markets.
Industry insiders said as the demand for personal protective equipment kits continues to grow in the international market, local manufacturers are tweaking their production capacities by setting up separate units.
When asked, Abdus Salam Murshedy, MP, President of Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) said, "The rising global demand for protective gear has created a big opportunity for the local apparel industry. It will help the industry to diversify products from conventional ones. We should take full advantage of this opportunity to save thousands of jobs and bolster export revenues.
"We are receiving large orders for all types of protective gears from major American and European buyers. Our reputation for providing quality products and on time delivery is playing a big role in getting orders for these products," AM Selim Chowdhury, First Vice-president of BGMEA, a trade organization of local garments manufacturers and exporters, told The New Nation yesterday.
He said local manufacturers are also boosting production lines as orders pour in from EU, USA, Canada, Brazil and many other countries around the globe. "The Covid-19 has opened up new avenues for the apparel industry to take advantage of the rising demand of PPEs when apparel export from Bangladesh witnessed drastic fall to its major destinations, mainly due to the ongoing pandemic," he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the domestic clothing industry, which accounts for over 80 per cent of Bangladesh's export revenue and 12 per cent of its GDP. Factories are reported to have terminated the employment of thousands of workers foreign after buyers cancelled or put on hold their shipments worth US$ 6.0 billion as the pandemic took a heavy toll on global clothing demand and supply chain.
As a result, the country's apparel exports declined by 18.45 per cent to $27.83 billion in the last fiscal year, the highest since the 2001-02 fiscal year. In the fiscal year 2001-02, the apparel sector declined 5.68 per cent when its total export earnings were only $4.58 billion.
"Many small factories shut permanently with medium to large factories facing significant losses due to drastic fall in exports due to the pandemic fallout," said AM Selim Chowdhury, adding, "But garment exporters are receiving orders for millions of pieces of caps, masks, gowns and other cotton-based protective gear from foreign retailers and governments every day. It creates a big opportunity for us to partially make up for our export losses."
He said products like PPE and masks would now be a permanent part of their future business, as the global demand for the products will not dry even when the pandemic is over.
The global personal protective equipment (PPE) market was valued at US52.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach US$92.5 billion by 2025, observing a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of 8.7 per cent during 2020-2025, according to VynZ Research.
ADM Mohiuddin Chowdhury, CEO of Clifton Group, said, "We did not have any work during the pick time of the pandemic. But we got the order to prepare these personal protective gears when the buyers were cancelling or suspending the purchase of traditional products. We have been able to export and supply these new types of products as per the agreement. It has played a very positive role in the economy and garment sector of Bangladesh."
He said, "Now we have huge prospects for PPE products as queries from global buyers are increasing gradually."

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