Bangladesh exports rise for eighth month in a row

DHAKA, March 10 Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:12am EDT

DHAKA, March 10 (Reuters) - Bangladesh's exports increased 13 percent in February from a year earlier, rising for an eighth month, thanks to stronger clothing sales, the Export Promotion Bureau said on Sunday.

Bangladesh's monthly exports had fallen year-on-year from March through June as the global economic slowdown weighed on demand. But exports have since picked up, with a 9.4 percent rise in the July-February period.

Total exports in the first eight months of Bangladesh's July-June financial year were $17.4 billion compared with $15.9 billion over the same period of last year.

Garment exports totalled $13.83 billion for the eight months ended in February, 10 percent more than a year earlier.

The country's economy and exports have benefited from a dramatic shift in global garment orders from China to lower-cost Bangladesh.

Garments account for 80 percent of Bangladesh's exports. The industry employs around 4 million people and more than four times that number are dependent on the sector for their livelihoods.

But the garment trade has been in the spotlight since a factory fire that killed at least 112 people in November.

The government has set an export target of $28 billion for the current fiscal year. But last month, the central bank cut its growth forecast for the current year to 6.4 percent, down from 7.2 percent targeted earlier, citing patchy global economy.

The central bank has also cut its key interest rates by half a percentage point in a shift of focus towards encouraging growth.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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