Bangladesh economy shows early signs of pandemic recovery

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FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, trainees work at Snowtex garment factory in Dhamrai, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. After months of decline in exports of its garment products, Bangladeshs economy is showing signs of recovery. The Asian Development Bank in a new report said Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, the country's economy's comeback was encouraging and it is expected to grow by 6.8 percent in the current fiscal year ending in June if this recovery sustains. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad, File)

DHAKA – A rebound in garment orders after demand crashed during spring shutdowns is helping to revive the Bangladesh economy.

Apparel makers, the country’s main export industry, say they are looking ahead to Christmas orders from the U.S. and other major markets.

Remittances from Bangladeshi workers employed overseas have also recovered, helping to relieve pressures from a pandemic quasi-shutdown during the spring.

The Asian Development Bank reported this week that the economic comeback was encouraging. It is forecasting the economy will grow at a robust 6.8% annual pace in the fiscal year that ends in June if current conditions persist.

That's a much brighter outlook than in April-May, when global clothing brands suspended or cancelled orders worth more than $3 billion, affecting about 4 million workers and thousands of factories.

“At the moment we can say that the ready-made garment industry has been able to regain its growth trajectory upward compared to March-May," Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, or BGMEA, told The Associated Press.

“As economies in the West were turning around we were successfully able to get the buyers back to the negotiating table, which is why 80% to 90% of the $3.18 billion in cancelled orders have been reinstated,” she said.

Bangladesh earns about $35 billion annually from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe. The industry is the world’s second largest after China's.