Bangladesh's woven garment exports grew by nearly 10% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year despite the economic slowdown in the European Union (EU) and the US.

Woven garment exports rose to US$2.457bn during the three months from July-September, up from $2.235bn in the same period of the previous fiscal year.

But knitwear exports slipped 1.54% to $2.540bn, according to statistics from the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Garments accounted for over 87% of Bangladesh's $6.29bn in exports in the quarter, up from $6.164bn a year ago.

To increase the country's overall export earnings, "we're now working to explore new markets such as Japan, China, India, Russia, Australia, Brazil and South Africa," a senior official at the EPB told just-style today (8 November).

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

Bangladesh's low labour costs have helped it secure business from international apparel brands and retailers like Gap, Tesco, JCPenney, Wal-Mart, H&M, Kohl's and Marks & Spencer.

Mohammad Hatem, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said export growth, particularly knitwear, has declined in recent months mainly due to the eurozone crisis.

"We're also facing inadequate gas supply in our factories. If the gas crisis persists, it will create a negative impact on the country's knitwear exports," Hatem told just-style.