Bangladesh's woven garment exports have grown by nearly 14% in the first nine months of the current fiscal year despite facing a number of headwinds both domestically and overseas.

Woven garment exports rose to US$8.1bn during the nine months from July to March, up from $7.1bn in the same period of the previous year. Knitwear accounted for $7.6bn, a rise of 8.44%, according to statistics from the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Bangladesh's knitwear exports moved into positive territory in October, amid signs that global buyers are slowly increasing their orders, with the rise continuing through March.

The country's overall exports grew by 10.2% to $19.7bn during the period, despite the economic slowdown in the European Union (EU) and the US.

Exporters and government officials described the growth as "much more than satisfactory" in the face of political turmoil, financial meltdown in major markets, power shortages and higher bank interest rates.

A senior EPB official told just-style that diversification of products as well as markets, including Japan, China, Russia, Latin America and Africa also played a major role in driving growth.

The government has set an export target of $28bn for fiscal year 2013, which began on 1 July 2012.

Talking to just-style, Fazlul Hoque, former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said exports are continuing despite frequent factory shutdowns and strikes - but exporters are paying more money for air freight to meet delivery deadlines.

"We're also counting losses like discounts, cancellation of orders and deferred payments," he said.

The former BKMEA leader also said the country's apparel and clothing sectors will face a blow in the coming months as future orders are below expectations.

"We are worried about the spring and summer season orders which are expected to be placed during March to May," Hoque said, adding that buyers are worried about shipment delays due to the recent political instability in Bangladesh.

The EPB data also showed footwear export earnings increased by 19.4% to $311.5m in the nine-month period. Leather exports were worth $272.3m, a rise of 15%, while shipments of leather products surged 75.9% to $104.25m.