DHAKA, June 15 Bangladesh's exports rose 7.22
percent in May from a year earlier to $2.7 billion, boosted by
stronger clothing sales, the Export Promotion Bureau said on
In the first 11 months of this financial year, exports rose
12.56 percent to $27.37 billion from a year earlier. Garment
exports surged nearly 15 percent to $22.2 billion in July-May.
The garment industry, which supplies many Western brands
such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and H&M, has
been in 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.
Garments are a vital sector for the South Asian nation,
whose low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have
helped make it the world's largest apparel exporter after China.
Political violence leading up to an election in January also
crippled the economy, along with readymade garment industry,
which employs four million people.
In its new budget for the coming fiscal year, starting on
July 1, Bangladesh announced minor sops to improve safety in the
garment industry, but did not allocate new funds to relocate
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith's 2014/15 budget
removed import duties on raw materials to make pre-fabricated
buildings and abolished taxes on safety equipment such as
fire-resistant doors and emergency lights.
The garment industry had been looking for government support
to buy land and relocate factories in unsafe buildings to a
planned industrial park in a bid to restore the confidence of
Western buyers in an industry that generates 80 percent of
Global buyers have also slowly started pulling out orders
from around 30 percent of the garment factories housed in
unsafe, shared buildings and which employ 1.5 million workers,
the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association
Government officials recently got embroiled in a controversy
over their decision not to shut down six garment factories
deemed unsafe by experts hired by Western clothing brands.
Late last year, the government raised the minimum wage for
garment workers by 77 percent to 5,300 taka ($68) and amended
its labour law to boost worker rights, including the freedom to
form trade unions.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence