RMG hiccups pull down July-Jan export receipts
The country’s merchandise shipments fell by 5.21 per cent in the first seven months of the current fiscal year over that of the same period of last fiscal year (FY). The monthly export earnings during the period under review maintained a downtrend except in the months of July and December. The total export earnings during the July-January period of the fiscal year (FY) 2019-20 reached $22.19 billion against $24.17 billion earned in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. The earnings also fell short of the target by 13 per cent set for the period, according to the latest data of the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). The single-month export earnings in January last edged down by 1.70 per cent to $3.61 billion. Overall export earnings from the garment items, both knitwear and woven, fell by 5.71 per cent during the seven-month period of the current fiscal year. The apparel sector fetched nearly $19.06 billion during the July-January period of FY ’20 against $20.21 billion during the same period a year earlier. Earnings from woven garments fell by 6.29 per cent to $9.44 billion, the EPB data show. Proceeds from knitwear exports during the period fell by 5.13 per cent to nearly $9.62 billion. The woven and knitwear exports fetched $10.07 billion and $10.14 billion respectively in the July-January period of last fiscal year. The EPB data showed that earnings from home textile stood at $442.67 million, down by 9.7 per cent from $490.2 million. It fell short of the target by 14.19 per cent. Unit prices of locally-made garment items declined by 2.49 per cent to US$ 13.65 per kg in January last from US$ 14.0 per kg in January 2019. Jute and jute goods exports during the period, however, climbed by 20.82 per cent to $602.49 million from $498.66 million. Agro-products like vegetables, fruits and spice fetched $603.91 million, up by 4.19 per cent. Pharmaceuticals exports grew by 8.11 per cent to $85.70 million. Frozen and live fish exports fetched $337.33 million in the first seven months of this fiscal, registering a negative growth of 6.58 per cent. Export of engineering products fell by 2.28 per cent to $194.82 million from $199.36 million. The country brought in $40.53 billion from goods exports during the last fiscal, of which about $34.13 billion came from textiles and clothing alone
Less trade eases current account deficit in H1
Although the country’s merchandise trade gap widened, the deficit in current account balance declined significantly in the first half (H1) of the current fiscal year 2019-20. The central bank statistics released on Tuesday showed that the trade gap recorded at $8.22 billion in the July-December period of the current fiscal year. The trade gap registered a 5.38 per cent increase over the same period of the past fiscal year (FY’19) when it was $7.80 billion. Provisional estimation of H1 balance of payments (BoP) also showed that the deficit in services trade stood at $1.65 billion during the period under review. The figure was $1.62 billion during the same period of FY’19. Current account deficit, however, stood at $1.34 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year which was $3.38 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. Workers’ remittance jumped by 25 per cent during the period under review while export and import of goods declined by 5.90 per cent and 2.72 per cent respectively. Financial account maintained a modest surplus of $1.79 billion in the July-December period. There was, however, a surplus of $2.97 billion in the same period of FY’19. A modest increase in inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) and decline in medium and long-term loan contributed to keeping the financial account surplus at low level. As a result, overall balance of payments registered $27 million surplus in July-December which was in a deficit of $513 million.
Country backpedals on growth goal
Bangladesh backtracks from its ambitious economic growth target as it takes a ‘conservative approach’ amid possible local and global shocks, analysts have said. In its next eighth five-year plan (FYP), the government looks to expand gross domestic product (GDP) at an 8.5-per cent rate in the terminal fiscal year (FY) 2024-25. In the Perspective Plan 2021, it set a target to the economy expand at a 10-per cent rate at the terminal FY 2021. The development strategy was framed in 2010. Meanwhile, the government has proposed to trim the GDP target in its macroeconomic framework in the next FYP to be implemented between FY 2021 and FY 2025. General Economics Division (GED) is framing the eighth FYP as the current seventh FYP expires in FY 2020. As per the draft FYP, economy will grow at 8.2 per cent in FY 2021, 8.3 per cent in FY 2022 and 2023, 8.4 per cent in FY 2024 and 8.5 per cent in FY 2025. On the mooted macroeconomic policy, Prof Alam said: “We haven’t taken a conservative approach to the growth target in the eighth FYP. We’ve taken a pragmatic approach.” Meanwhile, the country’s GDP growth in FY 2019 was buoyant as economy expanded at an 8.15-per cent rate. Analysts say GDP growth has broken past records as it is on a steep rise even after entering into the “7.0-per cent growth club” three years ago in FY 2015-16. Economy grew at the rate of 7.11 per cent in FY 2016, breaking the “6.0-per cent growth trap” after nine long years. In the national budget, the finance minister set an 8.2-per cent growth target for FY 2019-20 aiming to take it on a higher trajectory within the next few years. The GDP growth target is 0.05 percentage points higher than the 8.15-per cent final estimation in FY 2019. According to the budget speech, the total GDP size may rise to $347.7 billion in FY 2020 from last fiscal’s $301.9 billion.
8 finalists selected for regional Startup WC
A total of eight Bangladeshi startup for the final round of regional World Startup World Cup 2020 have been selected to compete in the United States’ Silicon Valley in May. The top local startup will be selected from the eight finalists of the regional edition of the competition. The finalists, which comprise Alter Youth, Cookups, Gaze, Parking Koi, Poshapets, Sigmind.ai, Torun Digital, and Truck Lagbe, will compete at the regional final round to be held at a city hotel on February 8.
BTCL on project spree to reclaim glory
State-owned telecom company BTCL has taken a host of projects worth Tk 22,121 crore in a bid to ready itself for the upcoming 5G technology and at the same time reclaim its lost glory. BTCL is currently working on four projects of Tk 2,835.65 crore for: modernising telecom network, upgrading switches and connections, establishing telecom network in Mirsarai economic zone, and laying fibre optic cables to provide Wi-Fi connections in about 500 schools and colleges. The company has five projects worth Tk 3,975.5 crore now awaiting approvals from the planning and telecom ministries. Another nine projects of about Tk 15,310 crore are at the “conceptual stage”, Matin said, adding that all the schemes should be complete within 2030. Its revenue slumped 22.23 per cent to Tk 886.81 crore last fiscal year. In fiscal 2008-09, when it was declared a company from a state organisation, its revenue was Tk 1,689.36 crore and net profit was Tk 106.15 crore. Ten years later, it incurred a loss of Tk 389.39 crore. The company is at a disadvantage for its ageing assets: in fiscal 2018-19 it had to write off Tk 560.73 crore for depreciation, according to its annual report. Of BTCL’s total revenue last fiscal year, 58.15 per cent came from depreciation of its assets and establishments: Tk 560.73 crore. The depreciation was Tk 591.61 crore in fiscal 2017-18, Tk 485.83 crore in 2016-17, and Tk 514.51 crore in 2015-16.
EBL gets new DMD
Mahmoodun Nabi Chowdhury has recently been appointed as the deputy managing director and chief risk officer of Eastern Bank Ltd (EBL). Prior to the appointment, he was the deputy managing director and head of corporate asset marketing of One Bank. Chowdhury started his banking career at Standard Chartered Bank in 1997.
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