Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a founding member of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program, joining with Bhutan, India, and Nepal in 2001 to form this project-based partnership. Maldives and Sri Lanka became full members of SASEC in May 2014, following several years as active observers.

The Twelfth Five Year Plan for 2018–2023 of the Government of Bangladesh focuses on the following core themes: i) rapid recovery from COVID-19; ii) GDP growth acceleration, employment generation, and rapid poverty reduction with a broad-based strategy of inclusiveness; iii) a sustainable development pathway resilient to disaster and climate change; iv) sustainable use of natural resources and successful management of the inevitable urbanization transition v) development and improvement of critical institutions; and vi) attaining targets of the Sustainable Development Goals and coping with the impact of graduation from least developed country status. In follow up to the the Seventh Five Year Plan FY2016-F2020, the transport sector strategy places emphasis in areas where performance gaps exist to develop an efficient, sustainable, safe, and regionally balanced transportation system. The plan highlights the introduction of modern technology for increasing capacity and improving quality and productivity of the system, development of the two seaports with smooth transport links to Dhaka, establishment of effective railway linkages between the east and west zones of the country, integration of road, rail and inland water transport, and participation in global and regional transport connectivity initiatives that help develop the land route links between South Asia and East Asia through Bangladesh.

SASEC Projects in Bangladesh

Since 2005, the Government of Bangladesh has signed 19 SASEC investment projects worth over $6.5 billion.

Bangladesh: SASEC Projects
Source: SASEC Project Portfolio, as of March 2022

Bangladesh: SASEC Project Portfolio, as of March 2022

In addition to the projects, ADB-financed technical assistance has supported SASEC investment projects in Bangladesh, regional cooperation forums, and knowledge-sharing initiatives, and pilot projects since 2001. A total of 15 national technical assistance projects (worth over $17.8 million) have assisted Bangladesh in project preparation, strategic planning, and capacity building.

Trade Snapshot

Direction of Intra-regional Trade

The value of Bangladesh's merchandise exports and imports trade with other SASEC member countries, using International Monetary Fund data from 2022, is captured in the tables below.

Bangladesh's top import source, ranking 2nd worldwide, is India, with imported goods valued at over $6.2 billion.

Bangladesh's top export destination in South Asia, and its 9th worldwide, is India, with exports valued at $843 million.

Bangladesh Trade - Import

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, accessed May 2022

Bangladesh Trade - Export

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, accessed May 2022

Logistics Performance Index (LPI)

The overall LPI score of 2.58 for Bangladesh in 2018 ranks it at 100 out of 168 economies. Bangladesh posted its best scores in timeliness (2.92), tracking and tracing (2.79), and international shipments (2.56). The country’s 2018 LPI score roughly reflects the South Asia regional average of 2.51.

Bangladesh LPI 2018


Source: World Bank LPI (accessed December 2018)

Note: The LPI overall score reflects perceptions of a country's logistics based on six core dimensions: (i) efficiency of customs clearance process, (ii) quality of trade- and transport-related infrastructure, (iii) ease of arranging competitively priced shipments, (iv) quality of logistics services, (v) ability to track and trace consignments, and (vi) frequency with which shipments reach the consignee within the scheduled time. The scores for the six areas are averaged across all respondents and aggregated to a single score using principal components analysis. A higher score indicates better performance.

Economic Outlook


Asian Development Outlook

In Bangladesh, exports and imports grew supported by rising global demand in garments. Import growth will be supported by private investment with imports of capital machinery and raw materials. Projections from the previous Asian Development Outlook Update placed the gross national product growth rate at 5.5% for fiscal year (FY) 2021 and 6.8% for FY2022, while inflation was projected at 5.6% for FY2021 and 5.8% for FY2022.

Source: Asian Development Outlook 2021 Supplement (ADB)
South Asia Economic Focus

Bangladesh sustained a modest recovery in the second half of FY2021 amid movement restriction in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With the return of orders for ready-made garments, the country’s merchandise exports grew by 15.4%. Recovery in labor income and remittance inflows supported private consumption and demand growth. Inflation in FY2021 was stable at 5.6%. GDP growth in FY2022 is projected at 6.4% and 6.9% in FY2023 as the country navigates its recovery amid the persistent effects of COVID-19.

Source: South Asia Economic Focus, Fall 2021 (WB)