Bangladesh retained the top position in garment export to the UK regarding volume; in value, they saw declines along with China, India, Turkey, and Pakistan. Cambodia and Vietnam were the only Asian countries that posted growth in value.
Bangladeshi exporters claim that they are paid one of the lowest prices for apparel in British markets. According to creditable data in the January-October period last year, Bangladesh exported 178.39 million kilogrammes (kgs) of garment items to the UK while China shipped 159.25 million kgs.
Bangladesh’s export of garment items by volume decreased 8.83 percent in the January-October period last year while China’s fell by 11.39 percent during that time. In 2022, Bangladesh had exported 232.68 million kgs compared to China’s 222.83 kgs.
According to British statistics the overall import of garment items by retailers and brands in the UK was lower last year because of historic inflationary pressure on consumers stemming from the severe fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
In the January-October period last year, overall import of garment items by British retailers and brands fell 12.19 percent to 604.02 million kgs. Bangladesh’s garment exporters received one of the lowest prices from British retailers and brands, mainly because their shipments consisted of low-cost basic garment items. In comparison, other countries like China and Turkey received better prices by exporting high value-added garment items.
Bangladesh’s average price is 21.39 percent less than China’s, 32 percent less than Turkey’s, and even 26.75 percent less than India’s, according to a price comparison by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He added that Bangladesh’s shares of the UK’s clothing import amount to 23 percent in monetary value and 28 percent in terms of volume, which means there are still opportunities in this market.
The ‘higher value-added garment’ is often misinterpreted as outerwear, lingerie, or activewear. But in fact, it means moving to the mid-to-higher market segment, where a t-shirt or polo shirt can earn higher prices due to complex processing techniques such as advanced fabrication, embroidery, printing, or even by offering more functionality.
Regarding the value of garment shipment to the UK, Bangladesh is very close to China. In January-October last year, Bangladesh exported apparel items worth $3.01 billion to the UK, registering 8.98 percent negative growth compared to the corresponding period in 2022, the data also showed. On the other hand, China’s garment shipment to the UK decreased in value by 21.01 percent to $3.18 billion in January-October last year.
Pre-Covid-19 global clothing imports in the UK stood at $16.83 billion in 2018 and $16.45 billion in 2019. In 2020, when the pandemic began, imports fell to $15.54 billion. In 2021, clothing imports by the UK further reduced, reaching $ 14.35 billion.
Clothing imports then made a solid recovery and hit $17.34 billion in 2022, but it remained below pre-Covid levels quantity-wise. Although it was widely expected that the momentum of positive growth would be sustained in 2023, the UK’s global import of clothing declined by 16.44 percent in terms of value to $12.09 billion in January-October.
Bangladesh is the second-largest apparel supplier in terms of value to the UK and the third-largest export destination for the country after the USA and Germany. Exporters hope Bangladesh will soon overtake China regarding its value in this market.
Bangladesh has already overtaken China in garment shipment to the European Union (EU) in volume and topped denim exports to the EU and the USA.