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Supply Chain Management

September 2010 - Posts

  • Bangladesh, an Emerging Economy in Export and Import

    Students of global economy are familiar with specific terms defining the economic powers that influence trade and industry beyond their borders. The Asian Tigers, for example, are the four highly-developed countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan) that account for a good percentage of market exports around the planet. Whether these nations will remain on top is up for debate, but as implied by Goldman Sachs those included in the Next Eleven group may prove competitive in the future. One such country is Bangladesh.


    Your first thought of Bangladesh might be of the Third World. In the 1970s the country - formerly known as East Pakistan - suffered the ravages of civil war and extreme weather conditions. The plight of her people moved musicians George Harrison and Ravi Shankar to organize a benefit concert to raise funds for relief - the first such charitable event, years before Live Aid. Today, while Bangladesh maintains its rank among nations with high poverty levels, it is slowly developing an economy that has shown impressive growth over the years.


    One might think, given the assumed paucity of natural resources and industry in the country, that Bangladesh doesn't offer much in the way of goods to export. Quite the contrary, though this neighbor to India doesn't enjoy the same GNP level of the United States or nearby Asian nations, Bangladesh exported in 2009 more than $18 billion worth of supplies annually, a significant growth from $5 billion seven years prior. With the United States as top customer (claiming almost a third of overall product), Bangladesh is known primarily for these goods:


    Textiles and Apparel: In proving its place among the Next Eleven, Bangladesh has made quite a mark in the textile export industry. Apparel exports, the nation's top industry, surpassed that of India for the first time in 2009, accounting for one-eighth of the country's overall export product.


    Leather Materials: Hides used for clothing and other products are a popular product for trade, and are usually included in the totals for textile and apparel exports.


    Jute: Jute is a specific vegetable fiber, similar to hemp and flax, which is used in the manufacture of textiles. Native to the region, jute is used in the production of coarser fabrics like burlap.


    Seafood and Fish By-products: Recent issues with the Gulf oil spill have no doubt boosted Bangladesh's role in the seafood trade. Always a popular export, fish by-products and seafood are shipped stateside and to Europe regularly.


    Ceramics: Pottery for decorative and practical purposes are created and traded around the world.


    Domestically, Bangladesh relies upon rice production to keep the economy strong. Other items imported in, primarily from neighbors China, India, and Singapore, help stimulate various industries. These include:


    Crude Oil and Petroleum: What Bangladesh lacks in natural resources for production, her trade neighbors provide to allow for smooth operations.


    Cotton: Perhaps the most important element of the textile industry, cotton imported into Bangladesh becomes the apparel that is exported around the globe.


    Food: Though two-thirds of the country's workers have jobs in agriculture, Bangladesh relies on imports to supply foodstuffs.


    Machinery: Equipment for refining rice and textiles are especially needed, and provided for by more developed countries.


    Metals: For domestic manufacturing, Bangladesh trades with metal rich nations to achieve these goals.


    Inexpensive labor and a growing GNP have helped Bangladesh reach a spot in the Next Eleven. This is certainly a country to watch in the next decade or so to see if their exponential growth will continue and impact neighboring nations.


    Kathryn Lively

    Photo by Ragib Hasan, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.