Bangladesh has a market-based economy, and it is categorized as an emerging middle-income country. The country's economy is recognized as one of the fastest-growing in the world. The cities of Chittagong and Dhaka are the main financial centers in the country, and the financial sector is the second largest in the subcontinent. Between 2004 and 2014 the country’s GDP grew by 6.5%. This was driven by foreign remittances, export of garments, and the domestic agricultural sector. For a long time, the country has focused on export-oriented industrialization, with the key export items being the export of garments, fish and seafood, leather goods, and jute among other items. Bangladesh also has self-sufficient industries in food processing, pharmaceuticals, and steel. Some of the major export destination countries include the US, the European Union, and other countries like Japan, and Canada.
The United States
The United States is the leading export market for Bangladesh, and the two countries signed a bilateral agreement for avoidance of double taxation and investment treaty. In 2014, Bangladesh exported goods worth $5.3 billion, and some of the items destined to the US included textile products, footwear, apparel, toys, sporting goods, games, pawns and shrimps, and agricultural goods. In 2017, Bangladesh was the 43rd largest exporter to the US and exported goods valued at $5.7 billion which was a drop from 2016 when it stood at $6.1 billion. In the same year, Bangladesh exported woven apparel valued at $3.5 billion, knitted apparel valued at $1.4 billion, other miscellaneous apparel valued at $222 million, and footwear valued at $102 million. Some of the agricultural commodities destined for the US were valued at $20 million, and they included tobacco, snack food, rice, tea, and herbs.
Germany is the second largest trading partner with Bangladesh and the second largest in Europe. It is the 37th largest exporter to Germany, and the two countries have had good bilateral trade partnership for a long time. The famous EU policy of “Everything But Arms” has granted Bangladesh duty-free entry to the European Union for all commodities and products except for arms and ammunition. In 2015, Bangladesh exported goods valued at $4.67 billion and in 2016 it increased to $5.49 billion. Some of the items exported to Germany include knitted apparel valued at $2.5 billion, non-knitted apparel valued at $1.84 billion, footwear valued at $114.9 million, and other textiles valued at $79.52 million.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the 3rd largest export market for the Bangladeshi products, and in 2016 the country exported goods to the UK valued at $3.5 billion. In the period between 2017 and 2018, the exports increased to $3.99 billion, which represented 9.74% of all the Bangladeshi exports. Some of the main items destined to the UK included garments, leather, frozen foods, jute, and bicycles among others.
Diversifying the Economy
Bangladesh is currently trying to diversify its export commodities to include high-valued and high-end goods, and there has been remarkable improvement and success in fields such as ship building, pharmaceuticals, electronic and electrical goods, and computer services. In 2017, the country exported goods valued at $39.6 billion to different destinations around the world, which was a 1.1% increase from 2016, but a 61.2% increase from 2013.