The Brazilian Cotton Growers Association (Abrapa), through the Cotton Brazil initiative, was part of the first official mission held by Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The aim was to strengthen commercial ties between the two countries officially.

The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mauro Vieira, led the Brazilian delegation on this historic trip to Bangladesh – an Asian country with which Brazil had trade worth US$2.3 billion in 2023. In addition to holding a business seminar in partnership with the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), on April 8th, the schedule also included working meetings and technical visits.

Abrapa was represented by the director of International Relations, Marcelo Duarte, responsible for the Cotton Brazil program. Mr. Duarte accompanied the ambassador on visits to two of the main Bangladeshi textile mills: BEXIMCO and Square.

The importance of BEXIMCO and Bangladesh

Established in 1970, the Bangladesh Export Import Company Limited (BEXIMCO) is a Bangladeshi holding company operating in the pharmaceutical, textile, ceramics, real estate, construction, trade, food, media, financial services, and energy sectors. The textile unit manufactures cotton and polyester clothing for the domestic and international markets.

Square is a conglomerate established in 1958 whose origins were in the pharmaceutical sector and which, today, also has a wide diversity of operations. Its textile unit began operations in 1997 with the manufacture of cotton yarn and is currently one of the largest producers of knitting and weaving yarn in Bangladesh.

“The two companies we visited are major importers of Brazilian cotton and we aim to strengthen this partnership through official channels between the two countries”, said Abrapa’s director of International Relations.

In the cotton sector, Bangladesh and Brazil are long-standing partners. In February this year, Abrapa started Cotton Brazil’s 2024 trade mission agenda in Bangladesh, in partnership with the National Cotton Shippers Association (Anea) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil).

Located in South Asia and with an extensive border with India, Bangladesh is one of Cotton Brazil’s priority markets due to its leading role in the global textile sector. In the 2022/23 season, the country was the largest importer of cotton in the world (1.48 million tonnes) and the second largest buyer of Brazilian cotton (242.3 thousand tonnes). Currently, Brazil accounts for 16% of the Bengali cotton market.

These large volumes of imports by Bangladesh are for a reason. With an average GDP growth rate of 6% in 2022, Bangladesh has one of the largest apparel industries in the world, second only to China. In 2022, apparel exports from Bangladesh were worth US$ 45 billion, or 7.9% of total world exports, according to the World Trade Statistical Review-2023

Currently, Brazil is the third-largest cotton producer and the second-largest exporter of cotton in the world. In the 2023/24 market year, which goes from August 2023 to July 2024, Anea forecasts that 2.57 million tonnes of Brazilian cotton will be exp