Sep 3, 2012
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Bangladesh to boost China clothing exports-business leader

Sep 3, 2012

DHAKA, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Bangladesh hopes to increase tenfold its apparel exports to China in the next three years, taking advantage of soaring production and wage costs in Asia's biggest economy, a top business leader said on Sunday.

"We hope to raise our garments export to China by 10 times to $1.0 billion by the year 2015," Mohammad Shafiul Islam, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told a news conference.

Islam was speaking after meeting a delegation from the China National Garment Association (CNGA), which said it wanted to significantly increase clothing imports from Bangladesh.

Feng Dehu, vice President of CNGA, said the clothing factories his delegation visited in Bangladesh, which has earned a reputation for restive labour relations and production disruption, were impressive and up to international standards.

Buyers of some major global brands have warned Bangladesh it could lose its key garment business unless peace at factories is guaranteed, labour rights granted and pay demands are met.

Bangladesh factories make clothes for companies including Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M , Marks & Spencer, Kohl's and Carrefour .

Islam said increases in wages and overall production costs in China was rapidly eroding its competitiveness in the apparel industry.

"They are now focusing on a strategic shift of production to other destinations including Bangladesh," he said.

Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammad Quader said Chinese investment would be welcome in areas where Bangladesh lacked capacity, such as suits and blazers for which there was huge demand.

China's domestic garments market is worth more than $300 billion, Feng said.

Garments made up $19 billion out of Bangladesh's total exports of $24 billion in the year ended in June, 2012, according to government data. (Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Anis Ahmed and David Cowell)

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