Country update: Bangladesh

Bangladesh is an emerging economy, with the 41st largest economy in the world, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. It is one of the world’s largest garment exporters and with its economy consistently among the fastest growing economies in the 21st century, it is on track to graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) list in 2026.

Real GDP growth accelerated to 6.9% in 2021 as pandemic-related restrictions were eased, led by a rebound of manufacturing and service sector activities, with Bangladesh the third-largest garment exporter after China and Vietnam.

Along with most of its south Asian neighbours, Bangladesh is challenged by the soaring cost of energy following the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which have impacted the cost of importing.

Bangladesh had until recently been better insulated from economic shocks, in part because of its successful export sector and its low debt-to-GDP ratio of 39%, but the country is still vulnerable to global economic developments.

Since the 1980s, Bangladesh’s garment industry has grown from 4% to 80% of the country’s exports, which total more than $50bn.

Bangladesh — once dismissed as a “bottomless basket” by Henry Kissinger — is a development success and today the country is where South Korea was in 1975, when it was on the cusp of its economic acceleration.

Illustrating the wide range of Bangladesh economic opportunities is the latest country update from our local partners in Dhaka:

  • Bangladesh’s exports were worth $4.60 billion in August, up by 36.18%.
  • Apparel exports are forecast to exceed $100 billion by 2030.
  • Bangladesh is the second largest supplier, after China, of apparel products to the EU and investigations by the Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) has identified additional export potential of $20b in EU, UK and US markets.
  • The US has said that Bangladesh has made significant progress in boosting fiscal transparency, which will encourage more inwards investment.
  • The UK has announced plans to invest £54.5 million pounds for children in Bangladesh.
  • The Asian Development Bank has pledged $9.46 billion until 2025 to boost post-pandemic recovery and deal with impacts stemming from ongoing global crises.
  • Bangladesh’s graduation from Least Developed Countries (LDC) list in 2026 will enhance its credit rating, attract higher foreign direct investment flows, while retaining – at least in the short term – preferential treatments in trade, subsidies and access to some LDC-specific funds.

We have established operations throughout Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and will always offer the most reliable options available within each market.

If you are shipping to/from, or thinking of entering the ISC, please speak to Elliot Carlile, who will be delighted to offer guidance and recommendations on the best solutions for your needs.