Home ›› Economy

Bangladesh can be upper-middle-income country by 2031: ICCB

TBP Online
08 Apr 2024 19:50:18 | Update: 08 Apr 2024 19:50:18
Bangladesh can be upper-middle-income country by 2031: ICCB

With targeted actions and appropriate policy followed by timely implementation to overcome the key challenges, Bangladesh has the capacity to become an upper-middle-income country by 2031, said International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICCB) on Monday.

An editorial of the current News Bulletin (January-March 2024) of ICCB said Bangladesh has achieved Monday’s position by overcoming many obstacles and setbacks as Bangladesh has demonstrated remarkable development progress in the last five decades, reports BSS.

The country’s journey from one of the poorest countries at independence to a lower-middle-income nation within four decades is a testament to its resilience, policy decisions, and commitment to reducing poverty and fostering shared prosperity said World Bank in its recent publication “World Bank in Bangladesh in 2024.

Macroeconomic stability with low levels of inflation and high levels of GDP growth have been key to Bangladesh’s underlying strengths and major drivers of socio-economic achievements.

Bangladesh reached lower-middle income status in 2015 and is on track to graduate in 2026 as a middle-income country and aspiring to be an upper-middle income country by 2031, the editorial said.

However, Bangladesh after LDC graduation in November 2026 will experience significant preference erosion. Although the EU and UK have offered to extend preferential duty-free market access for an additional three years, the export scenario to other markets will change immediately after graduation.

Bangladesh has a greater opportunity of increasing export to ASEAN, having a population of 661 million with a GDP of $3.08 trillion and trade exceeding $2.7 trillion.

According to 2020 data, Bangladesh imports goods worth nearly US$7.0 billion from ASEAN countries as against its export of only $1.0 billion. So, Bangladesh should give priority to have Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN in order to increase its exports.

With several major infrastructure projects including completion of Padma multi-purpose bridge, Dhaka Elevated Expressway, Bangabandhu Tunnel, linking Dhaka to the tourist haven of Cox’s Bazar, 3rd terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, 2024 is anticipated to be a year to reap the benefits.

However, in 2024 the economy is also facing challenges on multiple fronts such as inflation, declining foreign exchange reserve, a depreciating currency, income inequality and the demand-supply imbalance in the energy sector.

Despite impressive growth rates, Bangladesh faces challenges in its export basket’s diversification as more than 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s total export earnings come from garment exports.

Bangladesh has significant opportunities in leather, and footwear, food processing, pharmaceuticals, light engineering, assembling plants, and API production. Both domestic investment and FDI will need to be geared towards these sectors.

Bangladesh is the second-largest economy in the South Asian region. Vietnam, comparable to Bangladesh, ranked fourth in Asia-Pacific after China, India, and Indonesia in attracting FDI. The majority of total FDI inflows of US$ 274 billion at the end of 2022 into Vietnam were in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 61 per cent of the total registered FDI.

Bangladesh received an annual average of $2.92 billion in FDI as against Vietnam’s US$ 36.61 billion. FDI is one of the key elements for increasing export earnings and much needed foreign exchange reserve. So Bangladesh should review its strategy for attracting FDI, the editorial suggested.

Bangladesh has an energy challenge due largely to reliance on imported fuels which is estimated at about US$ 2.5 billion a year for power generation and also a lack of renewables and cleantech alternatives.

In fact, instead of moving towards exploring renewable energy sources, Bangladesh turned to the use of more fossil fuels such as coal, oil and LNG. With a depreciating currency, a reliance on imported fuels for power generation has led to significant rise in power generation costs.

Climate change is a critical issue in Bangladesh as it is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, according to Germanwatch’s 2021 Global Climate Risk Index, saying Bangladesh ranked seventh in the list of countries most affected by climate calamities during the period 2000-2019.