Bangladesh's garment makers have urged the country's ruling and opposition parties to put an end to ongoing political violence that is taking a heavy toll on the country's apparel sector.

Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told reporters that further growth of the apparel sector "may not be possible if the country's unstable situation continues."

The BGMEA president urged the political parties to ensure garment industry vehicles are not caught up in general strikes, generally known as hartals, which makes it "very difficult to keep shipment deadlines."

Exporters had to pay an additional BDT2.50bn (US$32m) in air-freight due to strikes and shutdowns in the last one and a half months, according to a joint estimation by the BGMEA and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA). 

Local businesses are also incurring substantial losses from order cancellations, discounts, air-freight fares and vandalism, exporters said. 

Twenty garment factories incurred losses of $14.94m since January, according to an initial assessment by the BGMEA. Of these losses, $0.82m was from discounts, $2.72m from air-freight fares and $0.9m from vandalism and arson attacks during the strikes.

According to the survey, buyers have cancelled orders worth $2.30m in the 20 factories - and products worth $8.18m are now facing delays in shipment due to the repeated strikes.

The BGMEA says global buyers have expressed their concerns over the ongoing political situation, and many have warned of cancelling and diverting their orders.