Bangladesh ranks 35th in the global GDP list. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh’s GDP last year was 460 billion or 46 trillion US dollars. There is a possibility that Bangladesh will be the 20th economy in the world in the next 15 years. Bangladesh is now a reliable name in the supply chain of the world.
All major countries of the world economy are partners of Bangladesh in economic activities. As a country, the United States is the largest export destination. Most imported products come from China. Private investment is coming from different countries. Development aid is also coming. Gradually multi-dimensional development and economic relations have developed with these countries.
Bangladesh imports a huge amount of products every year. These products include various consumer goods including food, as well as industrial machinery and raw materials. Intermediate goods are also imported. According to the data of Bangladesh Bank, the import expenditure of Bangladesh in the last financial year 2022-23 was 7 thousand 506 million dollars, which was 8 thousand 916 million dollars in the previous year. Amidst the dollar-crisis, various restrictions on imports have reduced import costs.
Exports, technology, investment, education—we depend on the West for everything. So it is very important to keep in touch with them. It cannot be exchanged for anything. We have to look to the East while maintaining strong ties with the West.
Ahsan H. Mansoor, Executive Director, PRI
China has been the biggest source of Bangladesh’s imports for a long time. Machinery and raw materials come from the country. More than one-fourth of the amount Bangladesh spends on imports every year goes to China. In the last financial year, the goods imported from China were 1 thousand 935 million dollars. India ranks second as the source of imports. Bangladesh’s imports from India have tripled in the last decade. According to Bangladesh Bank data, Bangladesh imported goods worth $1,368 million from the neighboring country in the fiscal year 2021-22.
Imports from western countries are low in monetary value. But many important goods and services are imported from those countries. This includes modern machinery, technology and technology.
Bangladesh is a major source of imports but not a major destination for exports. The United States is the single largest importer of Bangladeshi goods. In the financial year 2021-22, Bangladesh’s total export income was 5 thousand 208 million dollars. Of this, 1,420 million dollars worth of goods went to the United States. On the other hand, although China is the largest source of imports, the country’s position in terms of exports is almost at the bottom. While exports to the United States are subject to duty, Bangladesh has 97 percent duty-free benefits in China, but exported goods worth $680 million in the fiscal year 2021-22.
The picture in India is almost the same. Although a huge amount of goods are imported from the country, in the fiscal year 2021-22, goods worth 199 million dollars were exported. In the last financial year, the export earnings further decreased to 186 million dollars. In the financial year 2021-22, exports to the UK were worth $4.83 billion. As an alliance, the largest export market is the European Union (EU), where Bangladesh exports goods worth about two and a half billion dollars.
The United States, a major export market, is also ahead in aid
The advantage in the case of these western countries is that the balance of trade with the countries is in favor of Bangladesh. In other words, Bangladesh exports more and imports less in these countries. In case of China and India the picture is reversed.
However, the growth in Bangladesh’s exports to some western countries has decreased in recent times. And this is happening at a time when Bangladesh is on its way out of LDCs, a group of least developed countries. Mostafizur Rahman, a special fellow at the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), however, believes that the importance of the United States will increase after the transition from the LDC.
Mostafizur Rahman also said, Bangladesh has to consider the policy taken by the United States regarding labor rights. We have to realize that the issue of labor rights came immediately after US concerns about political issues.
Foreign direct investment
Countries like USA, UK and Japan are ahead in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). As of June 2023, FDI status in Bangladesh is $2,240 million. The largest investment was the United States – 350 million dollars. The next place is UK. But China, the second largest economy in the world, lags behind in investment in Bangladesh – 126 billion dollars. Investment in India, the third largest economy, is even lower—only $690 million.
While lagging behind as export destinations and sources of private investment, China, India and Russia are leading in lending to bilateral projects. The United States, United Kingdom and the EU have been providing development assistance to Bangladesh, especially for the Rohingya refugees.
China is now a major partner in infrastructure development. The country has given loans to several ongoing development projects. Some loans have tougher terms. On the other hand, Bangladesh is now the largest borrower country of India’s Exim Bank. Bangladesh has a loan agreement of 7.5 billion dollars under three Indian lines of credit.
However, Japan is ahead in providing loans and assistance to development projects. Japan has given about 2000 million dollars to Bangladesh since independence till the last financial year 2021-22.
Destination of students
Economically, Bangladesh has a great relationship with the partner countries in the field of education apart from trade. In almost all countries every year b
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