DHAKA, April 23 Bangladesh may have missed $3
billion worth of potential new business in readymade garments
this year as buyers shifted to other countries or held back
orders while it battled strikes and political violence, the head
of a trade body said on Tuesday.
The country has been rocked by protests and counter-protests
since January, when a tribunal set up by the government to
investigate abuses during the war of independence against
Pakistan began convicting leaders of an Islamist party.
At least 100 people have died in clashes and business
confidence has been rattled.
"At least $500 million worth of garment orders have been
diverted to our next-door neighbour India since January," said
Muhammad Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment
Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
"We may also have received up to 40 percent less orders from
our foreign customers," he told a news conference.
On Tuesday, much of the country was again shut down in
response to a 36-hour strike called by the opposition which
accuses the government of using the war crimes tribunal to
Islam said the slowdown in the developed markets of the
United States and Europe was already hurting Bangladesh's
exports of garments and business leaders were trying to find
"We were exploring new markets in countries like Russia,
Brazil, Japan, Chile, Argentina, India, China and South Africa,"
"New buyers from those countries had just started to come in
to explore our country ... but left without placing any orders
due to political violence and unrest," Islam said.
Vietnam and Cambodia had picked up orders in recent days, he
Shipments of goods had been disrupted because of the
strikes, prompting threats by foreign buyers to cancel orders.
Garments account for more than 80 percent of Bangladesh's
annual export income ($19 billion in fiscal year to last June)
and employ more than four million people, mostly women.
(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Sanjeev