DHAKA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Bangladesh's exports increased 19.44 percent on the year in December, rising for a sixth month, the Export Promotion Bureau said on Thursday, reflecting strong demand for clothing.
From March through June, Bangladesh's monthly exports were lower than the previous year as the global slowdown weighed on demand. But overseas sales have since picked up, with a 7 percent rise in the July-December period, the data showed.
Exports in the first six months of Bangladesh's financial year totalled $12.6 billion compared with $11.77 billion over the same period of last year.
In December, exports of ready-made garments were $1.95 billion, compared with $1.68 billion in the same month of 2011. For the six months ended in December, garment exports totalled $9.95 billion, 7.7 percent more than a year earlier.
The government set an export target of $28 billion for the current fiscal year, up from last year's total earnings of $24.3 billion.
Garments account for 80 percent of Bangladesh's exports, which supply global retailers. The trade has been in the spotlight since a fire that killed at least 112 people in November.
The garment industry employs 3.6 million people and more than four times that number are dependent on the sector for their livelihoods.
Working conditions in the factories are notoriously poor, with little enforcement of safety laws. Overcrowding and locked fire doors are not uncommon.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Eric Meijer)