Sleeping bags become a major export product

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Bangladesh is becoming a major sleeping bag manufacturer while China is losing market share due to labor shortages and higher production costs.

Until a few years ago, two or three multinational companies, located in the export processing zones under the Export Processing Zones Authority of Bangladesh, produced sleeping bags. Today, at least 10 local companies manufacture these items for export.

Sleeping bag production in Bangladesh is gaining momentum as the country increasingly becomes a major player in the production of outerwear such as jackets, tents, skiwear, sportswear, hunting clothing, safety clothing, work clothing and rainwear.

Sleeping bags require the same materials and machinery used to make outerwear. As a result, many factories are able to supply the items.

Outerwear shipments bring in nearly $4 billion a year to the country, and a good portion of the revenue comes from sleeping bag exports.

China has been the main producer of sleeping bags, but in recent years work orders have shifted to Bangladesh and other countries due to shortage of skilled workers and higher cost of production in the second Mondial economy.

As a result, despite a higher customs duty on the shipment of sleeping bags to the United States, the country’s main export destination, the revenue from this item amounts to approximately $500 million per year.

Bangladeshi exporters enjoyed the benefit of zero duty on the export of sleeping bags to the United States before the removal of the Generalized System of Preferences in June 2013 following the Rana Plaza collapse.

Since then, local exporters have faced tariffs of almost 12% on the export of sleeping bags to US markets.

Still, investors from the United States, Korea and China have moved their production units to Bangladesh to produce the item at competitive prices.

One of the manufacturers is Julio Lin, director of Eusebio Sporting Ltd, a Taiwanese company located in Chattogram. It exports $20 million worth of sleeping bags a year. It also exports tents.

He has been operating the business in Bangladesh for 15 years and ships sleeping bags to Europe, Russia, USA, Canada and some South American countries.

Russia is one of the main sleeping bag markets for Eusebio Sporting, which ships nearly $3 million worth of items to the country each year.

“I haven’t encountered any challenges in exporting to Russia despite the ongoing war. I ship goods as usual and receive payments from my buyers via third countries,” Lin said.

Bangladesh is teeming with skilled workers while their numbers are dwindling in China.

“The shipment from Bangladesh will increase more significantly in the future,” Lin said.

People who go on outings like trekking and skiing use sleeping bags in Scandinavian and other European countries as well as in North and South American countries.

Abdullah Hil Rakib, managing director of Team Group, a sleeping bag exporter, says shipping is growing rapidly from Bangladesh.

“The demand will increase further when people start skiing and mountaineering following the improvement of the Covid-19 situation.”

The demand for sleeping bags has declined a bit over the past two years due to the pandemic and it may take two to three years for the segment to fully recover.

The national manager of a French company that sources sleeping bags from a number of factories in Bangladesh says his company’s supply growth is 7-8% per year.

SM Khaled, Managing Director of Snowtex Outerwear Ltd, a leading outerwear exporter, says the sleeping bag manufacturing industry is growing in Bangladesh as demand increases globally.

Bangladesh’s share in the global sleeping bag manufacturing segment is on the rise as China loses market share, he said.

Khaled expects

export $300 million worth of clothing. Most of them are outerwear such as skiwear, jackets, workwear, safety wear, and sportswear.

In 2021, the top importers of sleeping bags were the United States, European Union, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia and Spain, according to data from the World Integrated Trade Solution portal of the World Bank.


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