Bangladesh’s exports of personal protective equipment (PPE) recorded a sharp gain by 23.39 per cent to $618 million in the fiscal year 2020-21, helping the country’s apparel sector post a better growth.
With this, a new window for opportunity has opened up for apparel exporters in diversifying their products within the sector.
In FY21, the country’s total apparel exports rose by 12.55 per cent to $31.45 billion, which was $27.95 billion previously.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the demands of PPEs went up sharply across the global and Bangladesh managed to grab a good portion of the pie as the world’s second largest apparel exporter.
As per latest data released by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the country’s exports earnings from personal protective equipment rose by 23.39 per cent to $618.25 million in the fiscal year 2020-21, up from $501 million in the previous fiscal year.
Of the total earnings, the highest $329 million came from full-body woven suits impregnated with plastic, followed by $132.93 million from medical protective gears, $105.56 million from textile face masks without a replicable filter, and $14.39 million from 3-layer surgical masks.
“We have developed 100 per cent biodegradable fabrics and produced mask with that in collaboration with HeiQ, a Swiss textile company. We exported to Australia, United States and Germany,” APS Group Chairman Hasib Uddin told The Business Post.
As the pandemic situation continues to linger further, the demand for masks will remain vibrant. But it could slow down if the pandemic ends. However, we can still gain from personal protective equipment exports, which will remain in demand even after the Covid-19 issue, he added.
Bangladesh’s current share in the global PPE export market remains very small but the sector has the potential to grow.
According to a research by Global Market Insights, the PPE market size is set to surpass $120 billion by 2027.
Meanwhile, another research showed that the global PPE market size was valued at $77.36 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3 per cent from 2020 to 2028.
“Exports of PPE was a good start for Bangladesh. As some of the items are new to us and we are working on how to add more items to the category,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan told The Business Post.
“Now, our motto is to expand the market as well as products in future to grab greater market share as it continues to grow, said Hassan.
We are conducting a survey on the global PPE market size, product baskets as well as trying to learn who are the potential buyers and what are the products in demand, said the business leader.
“Definitely, it is a great opportunity for Bangladeshi manufacturers to avail intra-RMG diversification. But manufacturers must follow guidelines and protocol to ensure international standards in production,” Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told The Business Post.
Small and Medium (SME) factories, who mostly suffered greatly due to the pandemic, can take the advantage of these products but the BGMEA along with the Commerce Ministry need to help them link up with the importers, he added.
On the other hand, exporters have to find new markets and get in touch with the importers, Moazzem noted.