Riding on the largest shipments made of apparel goods, Bangladesh recorded its highest ever single-month export earnings of $4.16 billion in September.
The earnings were 37.99% higher than the $3.01 billion registered in September of last year, according to provisional data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) released yesterday.
"As economies began to open up, retailers needed goods in bulk to meet consumer demand. As people could not leave their homes for around two years, once the restrictions were lifted, they began to buy more," said Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
"Due to the sudden spike in demand, many suppliers had to charter flights to transport goods. This is reflected in Bangladesh's single month highest in terms of exports.
"But the increased demand also affected raw material suppliers, disrupting supply chains and increasing freight crises.
He added that where on average Bangladesh would export $3billion, the number now stood at $4billion, but cautioned that the rate of increase in costs of raw materials was not matched by the value gained by manufacturers.
He urged manufacturers to focus on diversification and not to accept orders at low prices.
Meanwhile, last month's earnings were also 39.17% more than the monthly target of $2.99 billion.
Bangladesh earned $11.02 billion from exports in the first quarter of this fiscal year, which is 11.37% higher than the same period last fiscal year when it earned $9.89 billion.
The quarterly earnings were also 5.65% higher than the target of $10.43 billion, according to the EPB.
Apparel shipment grew by 41.66% in September this year compared to the same month last year as per the data published by EPB.
The highest earnings, $1.90 billion, came from knitwear shipment, while woven items fetched $1.51 billion, both posting over 41% growth from a year-ago period.
Leather, agriculture, fish, pharmaceuticals and plastic products also posted impressive growth year-on-year.
Jute and jute goods, however, lost out, posting over 24% negative growth in September.
"The apparel earnings reflected the much needed recovery in exports as well as increased demand for clothing worldwide as the Covid-19 situation is improving. However, the increased freight cost and yarn price has also inflated export earnings to a certain extent," said Mohiuddin Rubel, a director of BGMEA.
Team Group Managing Director Abdullah Hil Rakib said some buyers were offering lower prices despite the increased costs.
"As an association, we are requesting manufacturers to negotiate for ethical prices," said Rakib, also a director of BGMEA.
"Retail outlets have reopened and online stores are also enjoying good business, which is why our buyers are asking us for quick shipments to respond to consumer behaviour. They are also purchasing extra products as their inventory was very low from last year…," he added.
Echoing Rakib, Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh President Md Saiful Islam said due to the pandemic, retail price of leather products had dropped almost 60%, but now it had increased by 20-25% compared to earlier.
He said across the globe, raw material prices and freight costs were increasing, but maintaining previous prices due to previously purchased stock of raw materials had made Bangladesh's export market more competitive.