August 11, 2014 / 11:01 AM / in 3 years

Bangladesh exports down 1.4 pct in July, first fall since Aug 2012

DHAKA, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s export fell 1.4 percent in July from a year earlier, government data showed on Monday, the first decline since August 2012.

Exports totalled $2.98 billion in July, the first month of the 2014/15 financial year, 2 percent below the target, the Export Promotion Bureau said.

Readymade garments, comprising knitwear and woven items, fetched $2.517 billion in July, compared with almost the same, $2.516 billion, a year ago.

Exports in the year to June hit a record $30 billion, up 11 percent from the previous year, on the back of stronger garment sales.

However, the garment industry has been under the spotlight after a string of fatal factory accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April 2013 that killed more than 1,130 people.

Bangladesh’s exports in the 2014-15 financial year are expected to rise 10 percent from a year earlier to $33.20 billion.

Garment exports for the current financial year has been fixed at $26.9 billion, up 10 percent from previous year’s $24.5 billion when clothing sales surged 14 percent.

Garments are a vital sector for Bangladesh.

It’s low wages and, critics say, shortcuts on safety, make it the cheapest place to make large quantities of clothing and the second-largest exporter of readymade garments.

It also enjoys duty-free access to Western markets,

Last year, the government raised the minimum wage for garment workers by 77 percent to 5,300 taka ($68) a month and amended the labour law to boost workers’ rights.

But despite that, frequent strikes over wages are hampering the sector’s growth. [ID:nL4N0QD3C8

The industry accounts for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports and employs nearly 4 million workers, most of them women. (Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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