Overall export earnings fell in the July-January period of this fiscal year compared to the period a year ago – although knitwear maintained a positive growth.
Merchandise export trade fetched $22.67 billion in seven months up to January, down 1% from the same period of the fiscal 2019-20.
The decline, though marginal, was still steeper than in December when total exports in the first six months of FY21 fell 0.36% from year on year.
This is the second month in a row of export contraction, mainly due to the negative growth in woven segments of apparel.
Woven garment, the second largest earners, saw nearly 11% slide, overshadowing growth in knitwear and pulling down overall earnings from the apparel sector by 3.44%.
However, compared to December figures, earnings from readymade garments – both woven and knit – advanced nearly 8% to $2.86 billion in January.
The overall export earnings also fell about 5% to $3.43 billion in January, while the amount was $3.61billion in the same month last year, according to the provisional data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) released on Tuesday.
Apparel exporters said lockdown enforced afresh in most of the EU countries in the face of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak caused their sales to plummet.
Commenting on export performance, DBL Group Managing Director Mohammed Jabbar said, "Due to new lockdown many European buyers have reduced their order placement and some asked for delayed production."
Such unwanted scenarios have created uncertainty for apparel exporters, which may continue for the next two to three months, he added.
Meanwhile, Snowtex Group Managing Director SM Khaled said, "Majority people in the EU and the US will get vaccination in months and Covid-19 pandemic may come under control in next two to three months."
Unsold apparels stocked in brands' warehouses may have a dampening impact on export earnings in the next session too, he feared.
"We are facing challenges to run our units up to 8 hours a day due to lack of orders," Khaled added, hoping for a better scenario if retailers in export markets reopen their stores.
The growth in home textile and jute was impressive, 44% and 27% respectively. Earnings from home textiles – products like bed and kitchen toilet lines – make up less than 3% of overall exports in the last 7 months of the current fiscal year, according to the EPB data.
Raw jute, yarn, jute goods, carpet and handicrafts posted growths ranging from 27% to 48%, but their share in total merchandise was not significant to improve overall export performance.
Engineering and chemical products, including pharmaceutical, also saw growth, while frozen food, leather, agricultural, plastic – all were in the negative.