Apparel makers yesterday received export orders worth $2.5 million from Japanese companies, in growing signs of buyers sourcing more from Bangladesh.
A total of 16 small and medium Japanese companies, all clients of Hiroshima Shinkin Bank, ordered mainly knitwear items from Bangladesh.
The orders came at a business matching event between Euro Bangla Group, a local garment exporter, and Hiroshima Shinkin Bank. Nankai Company Ltd organised the event at Dhaka Regency Hotel.
"It's a great opportunity for our RMG [readymade garment] sector," said Hasnat Ahmed Hashemee, managing director of Euro Bangla.
"The quality of our products is high, and we offer competitive prices for our goods, which make us a better alternative for countries like Japan."
A coalition of 19 local manufacturers will deliver the Japanese orders. Euro Bangla Associates Ltd, Sadma Knit Composite Ltd, Mehnaz Style and Craft, Sportwear Garments Ltd, Speedwell Ltd, Alif Group, and Zarjis Composite Knit Industries Ltd are the major suppliers.
Bangladesh is the world's second largest exporter of apparel and textile items, after China.
The deal took place at a time, when export orders for garment items from European countries shrank 20 percent than last year due to the recent economic crisis in the EU countries, and local manufacturers are looking for new destinations.
Simultaneously, export orders for RMG items are shifting to Vietnam and Bangladesh from China, where wages increase by 15 percent every year, due to a higher production cost.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the knitwear sector earned $5.8 billion in the July-February period of the current fiscal year, up by 43.93 percent than the same period in 2010-11.
In July-February this fiscal year, woven garment exports grew 37.95 percent to $5.13 billion.
Export of Bangladeshi woven garment products and knitwear items to Japan grew nearly 43 percent to $247.51 million in 2010-11, according to the EPB data.
"Apart from being a textile and apparel fair, this business matching conference is the first event of a unique kind for businessmen in both countries," said Jun Tanaka, sales director of Nankai.
"The main objective of the initiative is to dig out the opportunities both parties may get from each other."
In December, Hiroshima Shinkin Bank conducted a research among its clients and found out that 90 percent of them buy garment items from china.
However, majority of the clients were unhappy about the increasing costs of Chinese garment products and were looking for alternatives.
Be it in terms of cost of production or the ability of local manufacturers to make diverse items, Bangladesh fits the bill, said Kazuhiko Katsura, general manager of Hiroshima Shinkin Bank.
This is why 16 Japanese garment items buyers visited Bangladesh, said Katsura.
The team visited the factory of Euro Bangla Textile, and found the quality of products very satisfactory, he said. Now, these Japanese companies are looking forward to getting orders done on time, Katsura said.
As Japanese companies import products through banks, the business team was accompanied by three banks: Hiroshima Shinking Bank, The Gifu Shinkin Bank and Shinkin Central Bank.
Hiroyuki Niwa, advisory officer of Shinkin Central Bank, said the bank would consider starting operations in Bangladesh in future if business between these two countries grows fast.