Bangladesh is a founding member of the SASEC Program, joining with Bhutan, India, and Nepal in 2001 to form this project-based partnership. The Maldives and Sri Lanka became full members of SASEC in May 2014, following several years as active Observers.

The Seventh Five Year Plan FY2016-F2020 of the Government of Bangladesh begins with the country's entry into the ranks of middle income countries. Placing emphasis on accelerating growth and empowering citizens, core targets of the Seventh Plan include reduction of extreme poverty, improvement of exports, investment in infrastructure in peri-urban growth centers around Special Economic Zones, increasing installed electricity generation capacity, and improvement of the country's multimodal transport network. Regional cooperation will be pursued to harness hydropower, to contribute to the goal of providing reliable electricity to all. To achieve the target growth of 8% by 2020, the transport sector aims to fast-track a number of transformational infrastructure investments, promote regional connectivity, and support the Trans-Asian Highway Project.

SASEC Projects and Technical Assistance in Bangladesh

Since 2003, the Government of Bangladesh has approved 13 ADB-financed SASEC investment projects worth more than $1.9 billion.

Bangladesh: SASEC Projects and TA, 2003-2016
Source: SASEC Project Portfolio

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 10 national technical assistance projects (cumulative worth $8.5 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 2015, is captured in the tables below.

Bangladesh's top import source, ranking 2nd worldwide, is India, with imported goods valued at nearly $5.6 billion.

Bangladesh's top export destination in South Asia, and its 15th worldwide, is India, with exports valued at $547 million.

Bangladesh Trade in SASEC Subregion, 2015

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics

Bangladesh Trade - Import

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics

Bangladesh Trade - Export

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics

Ease of Doing Business

In 2016, Bangladesh reduced the corporate income tax rate, lessening the cost of taxes for companies.

Source: Doing Business

Note: The World Bank/International Finance Corporation's annual flagship Doing Business Report measures the ease of doing business by ranking economies from 1 to 189, based on quantitative indicator sets that can be compared across economies and over time, with first place being the best and indicating a regulatory environment is conducive to business operation. Of immediate relevance to SASEC aims and goals are indicator sets on Starting a Business, and Trading across Borders.

Logistics Performance Index (LPI)

Bangladesh’s overall LPI score in 2016 of 2.66 ranks it at 87 out of 160 countries, reflecting clear improvement from its 2014 score of 2.56 and rank of 108. The 2016 LPI score also takes Bangladesh over the South Asia regional average of 2.62. Significant progress in Customs and infrastructure components, together with lesser gains in logistics competence and tracking and tracing, account for the 2016 improvement.

Bangladesh LPI 2016

Source: World Bank LPI

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.

Bangladesh LPI 2007-2016

Source: World Bank LPI

Economic Outlook

Asian Development Outlook

Industry growth in Bangladesh in FY2016 was higher than expected, in line with a strong garment sector. Services growth also boosted the economy, supported by higher wages in the public sector. Bangladesh can expect lower inflation in 2017 thanks to domestic factors such as ample food supply and slow private sector credit growth, and still low global fuel and commodity prices.

Source: Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2016

Regional Economic Outlook

Bangladesh experienced solid growth in 2015 as it continued to benefit from lower commodity prices and strong FDI inflows. Frontier economies and small states in Asia and the Pacific are expected to continue to record steady growth. Bangladesh’s growth is expected to accelerate to 6.6% in 2016 and to 6.9% in 2017, helped by lower commodity prices and strong investment in the manufacturing sector.

Source: Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific