DHAKA, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh exports grew at a snail's pace in the just concluded 2016-17 (July 2016-June 2017) fiscal year, showing few signs of speeding up in the new financial year.
Exports inched up 1.69 percent to nearly 35 billion U.S. dollars in the 2016-17 fiscal year, an official from Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) told Xinhua Monday.
"2016-17 fiscal year export reached 34.83509 billion U.S. dollars."
With 3.04 billion U.S. dollars export earning in June this year, down 15.27 percent over the same period a year ago, the EPB official who did not like to be named said the country's overall export earnings in the immediate past fiscal year also fell short of the target of 37 billion U.S. dollars by 5.85 percent.
Bangladesh's export income in the previous 2015-16 fiscal year (July 2015-June 2016) was registered at 34.24 billion dollars.
As always the growth in 2016-17 fiscal year largely attributed to demand for ready-made garment industry though the country's main export engine performed poorly in the immediate past year.
According to the official, knitwear garment export grew 3.01 percent to 13.76 billion U.S. dollars while woven garments fell 2.35 percent to 14.39 billion dollars in the 2016-17 fiscal year, comparing with the same period of previous fiscal.
Growth in earnings from garment exports, which make up more than three fourths of the country's annual incomes since the beginning of this decade, hovered 15--20 percent.
But in the recent years ready-made garment (RMG) manufacturers remained in export doldrums.
The EPB official said, many other traditional major exportable items, like frozen foods, jute, footwear, home textiles, leather and leather products, did not perform well in the last fiscal year.
"Multifarious adverse conditions in international market have created slight pressure on RMG export," Bangladeshi Finance Minister AMA Muhith said.
Of the two major export destinations, Muhith said export to the European Union has improved significantly.
"I believe export to the U.S. market will also increase considerably with accelerated economic recovery in the United States," said Muhith in his budget speech last month.
The United States is by far the largest destination for Bangladesh's garment exports.
Bangladesh's apparel exports to the U.S. in 2016 reportedly declined 1.96 percent year-on-year to 5.49 billion dollars due mainly to the volatile U.S. economy and its presidential election.
Thanks to its cheap labor force, Bangladesh is now the world's second largest garments exporter following China, producing global brands for customers around the world.
The country's garment industry has been severely criticized for safety concerns and labor unrest over rock-bottom wages in recent years.