When export orders for Bangladeshi garments were declining due to the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, exporters were looking for non-traditional markets to offset the bad impact of the recession.
All the markets except EU, US and Canada are non-traditional for Bangladesh.
During the crisis, the exporters explored the Asian markets, rather than the traditional markets as the western world was seriously affected by the financial meltdown.
Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China and India were then discovered as new destinations for Bangladeshi basic garment items.
All these newly explored destinations are potential markets for Bangladesh as exports to these countries are increasing at a high rate, said M Nasir Uddin, chairman of Pacific Jeans.
Nasir Uddin said he has been exporting to India for the last four years.
India is a potential market for Bangladesh as all the global renowned brands opened their outlets in India in the last five years to grab the business opportunities of this fastest growing South Asian economy.
Export of apparel items to India has been increasing at a double-digit rate in the last three years, he said. The export growth is still high as the demand is increasing in that country, he added.
Although India is one of the major players in readymade garment, export from Bangladesh to the country is increasing, as production cost in India is higher than Bangladesh, he added. He said Bangladesh is strong in basic garment manufacturing.
As a result, Bangladesh can supply garment items for the middleclass consumers at a competitive price, added Nasir Uddin who owns some factories in Chittagong Export Processing Zone.
The demand for jeans, casual and knitwear items is high in India, he said, adding that he exports mainly trousers.
"I export jeans and other garment items worth more than $1 million annually," he said.
But, different tariff and non-tariff barriers are affecting the business, he said, demanding strong trade diplomacy from Bangladesh government to remove the barriers. Bangladesh imports raw cotton, fabrics and yarn from India.
If strong trade relations can be established, Bangladesh will also be benefited from Indian market, which will ultimately help reduce the bilateral trade gap.
He gave an example of Latin American countries where the regional trade relationship is strong. As a result, they are dependent on each other for business, Nasir Uddin said.
"Aggressive marketing drive by both the government and the private sector can help attain bigger benefits from the growing Indian market in the next three to four years," he said. "Indian domestic market is huge. We must explore it."