Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trousers Island

Bangladesh is becoming the ‘Trousers Island’, if not the Treasure Island, for global apparel importers as local manufacturers are sourcing jeans and other cotton trousers at the cheapest prices and maintaining admirable quality, according to ‘New Age’ of Bangladesh.

The industry’s strength has weighed up with Bangladeshi exporters occupying the number-one position in the US market of jeans and other cotton trousers in December, industry insiders told New Age.

Quoting the latest report of world’s leading market survey organisation Research & Markets, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association officials said by December Bangladesh controlled 13.82% market share in USA.

The market surveyor, quoting US official data, showed that in 2008 US importers’ procurement of cotton trousers from Bangladesh totalled 299.9 million pieces, up 26.3% from that of the previous year.

Chinese suppliers lost their position to Bangladeshis as their shipments grew by less than 9% to 288.7 million pieces in the year.

Mexico, which was the top exporter of trousers to USA just two years back, stood third, with a more than 10% decline in shipments totalling 224.4 million pieces.

Vietnam stood at fourth position in US cotton trousers market, with 184.2 million pairs of trousers and an export growth rate of 14%.

A Bangladeshi official at VF Corporation’s procurement office in Dhaka points out that with developed backward linkage, local jeans-makers are finding fabrics cheaper locally and delivering shipments within a short period.

‘It is really fantastic to feel that one in every seven trousers sold in the USA is made in Bangladesh,’ he said. ‘Importers are diverting their procurements from other countries to Bangladesh and it is becoming a ‘Trousers Island’.

Bangladeshi suppliers recently received significant orders diverted from Mexico as depreciation of the value of Mexican Peso and some other factors made Mexican trousers costly, Anwar noted.

Abdus Salam Murshedy, managing director of the Envoy Group, a leading jeans supplier to American brands, points out that China’s growing reluctance to low-end products are also diverting many buyers to Bangladesh.

Partex Denim managing director Showkot Aziz Russell said finer quality denim fabrics are being produced in Bangladesh, attracting more procurement by global brands.

Partex supplies fabrics to many jean makers who source all top global brands including H&M, C&A, Marks & Spencer, American Eagle, and Uniqlo.

With a 2-million-yard annul production capacity, Partex is said to be the largest among some 20 local units that are now able to meet more than half of the industry’s demand that earlier had to be fed by imports.

The robust growth in trousers shipments to the USA is also significant for Bangladesh as she earns more than one-third of her entire apparel export proceeds from that country by selling denim and other cotton trousers.

According to the latest official data, in the January-November 2008, Bangladesh apparel exports earned $3.17 billion from the USA, with cotton-based trousers accounting for $1.19 billion and non-cotton trousers $147 million.