The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Tuesday said that visa restrictions by the United States would not disrupt exports of garment products to the country, rather it may fall due to the financial crisis in the West, said the president of the sector's apex body.

"We are sharing the latest industry statistics with you regularly. You must have noticed that in the first seven months of this year, overall apparel imports by the US and the European Union have come down at an alarming rate," BGMEA President Faruque Hassan told a press conference in its office in Uttara.

The US is the single largest importer of Bangladeshi garment products.

During the period, overall global apparel imports by the US fell by 22.28 percent in terms of value, while their imports from Bangladesh fell by nearly 20 percent, Faruque said.

On the other hand, in terms of volume, global imports by the US decreased by 28 percent while import share in volume from Bangladesh decreased by 29 percent, he said.

It means, in terms of quantity, the import by the US from Bangladesh has decreased by one-third over the last seven months, he said.

Meanwhile, global imports by Europe fell by 7.5 percent and from Bangladesh by about 12 percent. Also, imports by the European Union from exporting countries decreased by about 13 percent, and from Bangladesh by 14.50 percent, he said.

"Our two main markets - North America and Europe account for about 80 percent of total exports. And if there is instability in these two markets for any reason, it will have an adverse effect on our industry," Faruque said.

"We have always focused on market expansion and the creation of new markets to overcome this vulnerability. We have been doing this continuously since 2010. Recently, we held a daylong Bangladesh Apparel Summit in Australia. There we have highlighted the overall progress of our industry," he added.

The BGMEA expects a new momentum in exports to Australia.

He said that the BGMEA is working with many more unconventional markets like South Korea, Japan, China, India, Saudi Arabia and even Iraq.

The growth of exports to new markets will help Bangladesh during this crucial time, he said.

In the press conference, the BGMEA also said that recent news coverage in Bangladesh's media claiming that 10 companies laundered Tk300crore is not true.

Of the 10 companies, four are members of the BGMEA, two are members of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and four others are not associated with any of them.

It has been said that 3 crore 53 lakh 66 thousand 918 US dollars have been charged against 10 exporters of Dhaka and Gazipur in the name of exporting ready-made garments.

The media of the country also spread news about this. After that, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate got the initial confirmation.

"This information is false and fabricated," Faruque said.

He demanded that the government form a separate taskforce to investigate the allegation of money laundering by the garment factories.

The BGMEA leaders said that they took the responsibility for decreasing exports amid drop of retail sales of garment products impacting the country's export severely due to inflationary pressure in the West.

BGMEA's Senior Vice-President SM Mannan Kochi, Vice-President Shahidullah Azim, former Presidents of the organisation Abdus Salam Murshedy and Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, and other factory owners attended the news conference.

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