Apparel manufacturers of the country again called on US policymakers to negotiate with their government to allow duty-free access to Bangladesh’s apparel made of US cotton to make trade easier by reducing time.
In a recent letter to Arkansas senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman and governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff; and governor Brian P. Kemp and Kevin McCarthy, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, BGMEA urged the duty-free access.
In those letters, the BGMEA President noted that the initiative will reduce the time and cost of importing cotton from the USA.
Quoting a WTO report, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan noted that Bangladesh is the second largest apparel exporting country in the world with a 6.37% share in global apparel trade and a significant portion of its apparel is made of cotton.
“In 2022, we exported around $32.86 billion worth of cotton garments, which is 71.89% of our total garments export,” he said, adding Bangladesh’s apparel export reached $45.71 billion in 2022.
Bangladesh is the second largest cotton-importing country in the world as 99% of the cotton needed for its export-oriented readymade garment (RMG) industry is met by imports.
He also wrote about a recent gazette notification, dated 19 February 2023, which eased the rules of mandatory fumigation tests for importing cotton from Western Hemisphere countries or regions including the United States of America.
It has withdrawn the double fumigation condition on US cotton allowing an almost zero duty (1%) import facility.
“Last year, we imported 4,080 million pounds of cotton from the world of which almost 409 million pounds were imported from the USA,” he said while adding that the duty-free facility for the cotton imported for export-oriented RMG industry in Bangladesh gives a cost advantage to cotton growers and exporters.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan further mentioned that USA’s apparel import from Bangladesh reached $9.74 billion in 2022, of which 71% or $6.91 billion worth of apparel was made of cotton.
“USA’s cotton apparel import from the world in 2022 was worth $47.51 billion of which the share of Bangladesh was 14.54%. It clearly shows that Bangladesh is one of the major suppliers of cotton-made apparel to the country,” he added.
Duty-free access to clothing made in Bangladesh will also benefit U.S. consumers, especially the middle and lower-income groups for whom clothing and other essentials comprise a major share of expenses. As the apparel items face highest tariffs, the waiver will benefit for both U.S. consumers and its cotton growers in this difficult time. On a brighter note, we hope global economy, retail business and trade will start coming back in 2024 while the demand for cotton will further increase, the BGMEA chief said.
The requested duty-free treatment for apparel made of US cotton will add further momentum which will boost our bilateral trade and investment to certain extent.