Bangladesh's woven garment exports have risen by 13.6% in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, helped by a shift in orders away from China and a diversification into new markets.

Woven garment exports climbed to US$6.12bn during the seven months from July to January, up from $5.39bn in the same period the year before.

Knitwear exports were up 6.4% to $5.9bn, according to statistics from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). Exports moved into positive territory in October, amid signs that global buyers are slowly increasing their orders.

"We've achieved satisfactory export growth despite the ongoing financial meltdown," Shubhashish Bose, vice chairman of the EPB told just-style.

The government has set an export target of $28bn for fiscal year 2013, which ends on 30 June.

As well as an increase in orders from the European Union, growth is being helped by a rise in exports to new markets like Japan, China, Russia, Latin America and Africa, added Mohammad Hatem, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).

He also said local exporters are receiving new orders from buyers who are drifting away from China where labour costs are rising.

Both exporters and government officials said they believe the export growth will be sustainable, with summer orders already coming in.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think-tank, also told just-style the recovery of the US economy and the redirection of orders from China would help Bangladesh's export growth.

Bangladesh is now the second biggest supplier of apparel to the EU after China.