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SWOT analysiss of Bangladesh Economy (2010)

A SWOT ANALYSIS OF
BANGLADESH ECONOMY
Prepared By:
Md. Moshiur Rahman, MBA BRAC
University
ID: 10164013

Abstract:
Although one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries,Bangladesh has
made major strides to meet the food needs of its increasing population, through increased
domestic production augmented by imports. The land is devoted mainly to rice and jute
cultivation, although wheat production has increased in recent years; the country is largely self-
sufficient in rice production. Nonetheless, an estimated 10% to 15% of the population faces
serious nutritional risk. Bangladesh's predominantly agricultural economy depends heavily on
an erratic monsoonal cycle, with periodic flooding and drought. Although improving,
infrastructure to support transportation, communications, and power supply is poorly
developed. Bangladesh is limited in its reserves of coal and oil, and its industrial base is weak.
The country's main endowments include its vast human resource base, rich agricultural land,
relatively abundant water, and substantial reserves of natural gas. Following the violent events
of 1971 during the fight for independence, Bangladesh--with the help of large infusions of donor
relief and development aid--slowly began to turn its attention to developing new industrial
capacity and rehabilitating its economy. The static economic model adopted by its early
leadership, however--including the nationalization of much of the industrial sector--resulted in
inefficiency and economic stagnation. Beginning in late 1975, the government gradually gave
greater scope to private sector participation in the economy, a pattern that has continued. A few
state-owned enterprises have been privatized, but many, including major portions of the banking
and jute sectors, remain under government control. Population growth, inefficiency in the public
sector, resistance to developing the country's richest natural resources, and limited capital have
all continued to restrict economic growth.
In the mid-1980s, there were encouraging, if halting, signs of progress. Economic policies aimed
at encouraging private enterprise and investment, denationalizing public industries, reinstating
budgetary discipline, and liberalizing the import regime were accelerated. From 1991 to 1993,
the government successfully followed an enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF) with the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) but failed to follow through on reforms in large part because
of preoccupation with the government's domestic political troubles. In the late 1990s the
government's economic policies became more entrenched, and some of the early gains were
lost, which was highlighted by a precipitous drop in foreign direct investment in 2000 and 2001.
In June 2003 the IMF approved 3-year, $490-million plan as part of the Poverty Reduction and
Growth Facility (PRGF) forBangladesh that aimed to support the government's economic reform
program up to 2006. Seventy million dollars was made available immediately. In the same vein
the World Bank approved $536 million in interest-free loans. Efforts to achieveBangladesh's
macroeconomic goals have been problematic. The privatization of public sector industries has
proceeded at a slow pace--due in part to worker unrest in affected industries--although on June
30, 2002, the government took a bold step as it closed down the Adamjee Jute Mill, the
country's largest and most costly state-owned enterprise. The government also has proven
unable to resist demands for wage hikes in government-owned industries.




Introduction:
Bangladesh is an agricultural country, with some three-fifths of the population engaged in
farming. Jute and tea are principal sources of foreign exchange. Other important agricultural
products are wheat, pulses (leguminous plants, such as peas, beans, and lentils), and sweet
potatoes, oilseeds of various kinds, sugarcane, tobacco, and fruits such as bananas,
mangoes, and pineapples.
Agriculture has in the past been wholly dependent upon the vagaries of the monsoon. A
poor monsoon has always meant poor harvests and the threat of famine. Among the
remedial measures adopted has been the construction of a number of irrigation projects
designed to control floods and to conserve rainwater for use in the dry months. The most
important are the Karnaphuli Multipurpose Project in the southeast, the Tista Barrage
Project in the north, and the Ganges-Kabadak Project, to serve the southwestern part of the
country. Economic planning has encouraged double and triple cropping, intercropping, and
the increased use of fertilizers.

Economy of Bangladesh at a glance:
GDP: purchasing power parity$175.5 billion (1998 EST.)
GDPreal growth rate: 4% (1998 EST.)
GDPper capita: purchasing power parity$1,380 (1998 EST.)
GDPcomposition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 17%
services: 53% (1997)
Population below poverty line: 35.6% (1995-96 EST.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 4.1%
highest 10%: 23.7% (1992)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7% (1998)
Labor force: 56 million
note: extensive export of labor to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Oman (1996)
Labor forceby occupation: agriculture 65%, services 25%, industry and mining 10%
(1996)
Unemployment rate: 35.2% (1996)
Industries: jute manufacturing, cotton textiles, food processing, steel, fertilizer
Industrial production growth rate: 3.6% (1997)
Electricityproduction: 11.5 billion kWh (1997)
Electricityproduction by source:
fossil fuel: 97.35%
hydro: 2.65%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1996)
Electricityconsumption: 11.3 billion kWh (1996)
Electricityexports: 0 kWh (1996)
Electricityimports: 0 kWh (1996)
Agricultureproducts: rice, jute, tea, wheat, sugarcane, potatoes; beef, milk, poultry
Exportscommodities: garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood
Exportspartners: Western Europe 42%, US 30%, Hong Kong 4%, Japan 3% (FY95/96
est.)
Importscommodities: capital goods, textiles, food, petroleum products
Importspartners: India 21%, China 10%, Western Europe 8%, Hong Kong 7%,
Singapore 6% (FY95/96 est.)
Debtexternal: $16.7 billion (1997)
Economic aidrecipient: $1.475 billion (FY96/97)
Currency: 1 taka (Tk) = 100 poisha
Exchange rates: taka (Tk) per US$148.500 (January 1999), 46.906 (1998), 43.892
(1997), 41.794 (1996), 40.278 (1995), 40.212 (1994)
Strength of Bangladesh Economy:

I will discuss the strength of Bangladesh Economy by discussing the vital Variables i.e. the
performances vital Economic Sectors. The variables are as follows:

Agriculture
RMG Industry
Textile Industry
Service Sector
Capital Market
Remittances


Agriculture:

Bangladesh is an agricultural country. With some three-fifths of the population engaged in
farming. Jute and tea are principal sources of foreign exchange. Major impediments to growth
include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port
facilities, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in
exploiting energy resources (natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation
of economic reforms. Economic reform is stalled in many instances by political infighting and
corruption at all levels of government.

The quarterly report of Asian Development Bank (ADP) about BangladeshEconomy also
has provided information regarding Bangladesh Agriculture:

Despite the government's broad-based support for Agriculture, the growth rate of agriculture in
FY2010 is expected to be lower than in FY2009 because of the effects of weather, and weak
supply response by farmers to lower farm-gate prices after last years harvesting season.
Although the authorities channeled electricity from the cities to rural areas during the boro
season, supply wasnt adequate to meet the full demand for irrigation. Production of staple food
grains, i.e., rice and wheat, is estimated to grow by 5.5% in FY2010 over the 32.2 million Tons
of actual production in FY2009 (Figure 1). Production of rice is estimated to rise by 5.1%, from
31.3 million tons in FY2009 to 32.9 million tons in FY2010. Wheat Production is targeted to
increase by 20.1%, from0.85 million tons in FY2009 to 1.02 million tons in FY2010.Substitution
of cultivated land to no rice crops is expected to increase production of maize, potatoes, and
other crops. Despite the unusually large production of potatoes, the lack of storage facilities
caused a huge loss for farmers. The outputs of fishery, poultry, and livestock sectors, although
growing, are unable to meet rising demand from the growth in population and income.

RMG Industry: The economy of Bangladesh is largely dependent onagriculture.
However, in recent years, the Ready Made Garments (RMG) sector has emerged as the biggest
earner of foreign currency. The RMG sector has experienced an exponential growth since the
1980s. The sector contributes significantly to the GDP. It also provides employment to around 2
million Bangladeshis. An overwhelming number of workers in this sector are women. This has
affected the social status of many women coming from low income families.

The United States was the main export destination for Bangladeshi RMG products in the early
1990s followed by the European Union, but the European Union has surpassed the United
States over time. These two destinations generate more than 90 per cent of the total RMG export
earnings of Bangladesh (BGMEA and the Export Promotion Bureau).
The shares of other importers, such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan and the Russian
Federation as well as countries in the Middle East.
The total RMG export earnings of Bangladesh are minimal. This section of the paper focuses on
surface-level competitive performance of the Bangladesh RMG industry in the United States and
the European Union markets only. In addition, the performance ofChina and India along
with Bangladesh as RMG suppliers to international markets is also considered for comparative
analysis.

According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh exported knitwear products
to China worth $3.071 million in fiscal 2007-08 against $0.76 million in the previous fiscal year,
posting a staggering 400 percent growth. In fiscal 2007-08 the country exported woven garments
to China worth $6.691 million against $6.323 million in fiscal 2006-07. The total export
to China from Bangladesh amounted to $106.946 million against the import of around $3.0
billion in fiscal 2007-08.

In 2007, Bangladesh exported cotton T-shirts, singlets and other vests worth $0.79 million
against $0.57 million in 2006. China imported such kind of apparel items worth $976.890
million in 2007 and $926.330 million in 2006 from the rest of the world. It clearly shows
that China itself imports apparel items of a significant amount. Aggressive marketing drive
by Bangladesh can grab a chunk of such import of China, experts say.

Currently Bangladesh enjoys duty concession on exports of 757 products to Chinese market
under Asia Pacific Trade Agreement. Of the 757 products, 22 knitwear items and almost the
same amount of woven items are included in the concession category. As a result, the export of
knitwear and woven products is getting a steady rise to China.

Textile Industry: While agriculture for domestic consumption isBangladeshs largest
employment sector, the money gained from exportingtextiles is the single greatest source of
economic growth in Bangladesh. Exports of textiles, clothing, and ready-made garments
accounted for 77% ofBangladeshs total merchandise exports in 2002.Only 5% of textile
factories are owned by foreign investors, with most of the production being controlled by
families or Bangladeshi companies.

Textile exports from Bangladesh displays a buoyant performance. Knitwear and woven garment
exports have increased by 41.8%, and 36.2 percent during December 2008 comparatively over
the previous years figures. Since Bangladesh exports low end textile products, their sales are
least affected by the economic crisis. Shoppers from the income declining countries, who prefer
to restrict their shopping budget, prefer to buy low end garments imported from Bangladesh.


Service Sector:
The service sector in Bangladesh is now contributing more than 49 percent to the gross
domestic product (GDP) after reorganization of different sectors under the newly adopted
national accounting system, The Financial Express reported Saturday. The report quoted sources
of the finance and planning ministries as saying the relative contributions of the service and
industry sectors have increased over the years while those of agriculture have declined. The
contributions of the agriculture sector dropped from about 30 percent in the early 1990s to 25.28
percent at present, but the industrysector commanded 25.69 percent in the last financial year.


Asian Development Bank (ADP) has launched an analysis on Bangladesh Economy. They
described the service sector of Bangladesh in the following way:

Performance of the services sector largely dependson the outcomes of the agriculture and
industry sectors. The global economic crisis has impacted growth of the
Services sector in a variety of ways. Contraction in tradeand investment activities affected
performance of transport and communication services. Subdued trade and investment activities
affected financial services. Moderation in remittance inflow also dampened demand for services
affecting wholesale and retail trade and
Community, social, and personal services. Lack of infrastructure and power supply has
constrained new investment in health care and education services. The
Telecommunications sector is also affected by the slowdown in economic activities, particularly
trade.


Capital Market: Asian Development Bank (ADP) in their quarterly analysis
has described the capital market as follows :

The major stock market indicators rose during FY2010, except for a brief period during mid-February to
mid-April, when the market experienced some instability.
The index rose 118.2% year-on-year in April 2010, reaching 5,654.9 points, because of the listing of
Grameenphone (the country's largest mobile phone company) on the stock exchange in November 2009,
and significant involvement of institutional participants in daily transactions. The active participation of a
large number of retail investors along with the coincidence with bonus share (cash, stock, right)
declaration contributed to the
Recent rise in the index. Market capitalization of the Dhaka Stock Exchange rose by 120.7%, from
Tk1,062.4 billion in April 2009 to Tk2,345.0 billion by the end of April 2010,
Reflecting the listing of a large number of companies.

Remittances :
From Asian Development Bank (ADP) quarterly report:
Remittance inflows, a major source of foreign exchange income, accounted for 10.9% of GDP in
FY2009. Although lower than export earnings (17.5% of GDP in FY2009), they are much higher than
FDI (1.1%) and official development assistance (1.2%). Being one of the top 10 remittance recipient
countries in the world. Bangladesh has been able to maintain respectable foreign reserves and meet its
international payments obligations because of the robust flow of remittances. They are considered a more
stable source of foreign exchange. The joint World Bank-IMF low-income country debt sustainability
framework now takes into account remittances in evaluating the ability of countries to repay external
obligations and their ability to receive nonconcessional borrowing from private creditors. IMF Article IV
assessments include remittance as a variable alongside FDI and portfolio flows.



Weakness of Bangladesh Economy:

In terms of strengths, there is no doubt Bangladesh is in a good geographic location. It provides
an important link between the economies of South Asia and the dynamic Southeast Asian
region. Bangladesh sits on strategic trade lanes and Chittagong can emerge as a major port to
service the regional economies. Although Bangladesh is a new nation, it represents an old and
flexible civilization. Both its ecology and history point to the people's hidden resilience in the
face of adversities, with capacity to produce unexpected social renewals and economic recovery.
Another source of its strength is the rapid advance made by the non governmental organizations
(NGOs) and other grassroots bodies, creating alternative delivery mechanisms and acting as
vocal civic institutions especially for the poor. This is an important source of 'social
entrepreneurialism' and a channel of vibrant development of many elements in society. The
ongoing process of mainstreaming women into development is a strategic strength to bring wider
and deeper social and economic changes. Gains in increasing political and electoral participation
of women, enhancing press freedom, and creating a vibrant civil society are important for
strengthening democratic institutions and consolidating human rights.

The country's vulnerability to natural disasters has significantly declined that used to inhibit
greater investment flow and reduce its productivity and return in the past. Several important
structural changes have taken place, such as agriculture becoming more resilient with the spread
of dry season irrigated crop production and rapid expansion of non-crop agriculture; non-
agricultural sectors assuming greater importance; infrastructure and market developments
contributing to greater spatial integration and lower price effect of exogenous shocks; and higher
mitigation capacity in responding to natural disasters.

Bangladesh has a fairly good and expanding stock of both physical and human capital, and with
favorable policies, the upgrading potential of both capital is bright. The remittances from
overseas workers have already become a great source of strength and this can be increased
manifold with right policies. Relative stability of the country's economic fundamentals has
created a fairly good macroeconomic environment. As one can see, all the above elements
represent significant strengths of the Bangladesheconomy.

Against this, one can set some obvious weaknesses. One uncomfortable feature is
thatBangladesh is one of the few countries where income poverty is falling slowly even though
economic growth has picked up. Even after three decades, most of the economic sectors
(especially agriculture) are still weak; health and education indicators are low. Infrastructure,
while improving, is still poor especially in electricity, having a per capita use which is among the
lowest in the world. Corruption is certainly high. The economic and administrative cost of
securing business is high as well. A feature of both a weakness and a threat is the rapidly rising
inequality in income and wealth, which neither supports economic efficiency nor social equity.
This is socially destabilizing as underemployed urban masses and a swelling rural landless
people are much more volatile than a well-rooted community of employed non-farm workers and
landed farmers.

The absolute size of the population, despite success in lowering the growth rate, is increasing fast
that creates tremendous pressure on resources as well as on provision of essential services.

Looking forward, what advantages or opportunities does Bangladesh have? In a sense, many of
the weaknesses that can be remedied are opportunities. If agricultural productivity is low,
investments in irrigation, improved agricultural systems, markets, and infrastructure can raise
production and productivity. If foreign direct investment (FDI) is low, then improvements in
governance, infrastructure, and investment climate can attract more investments. A higher
demand for skilled workers can create an incentive for better training and education. Services
sector development including export of skilled manpower is a real possibility. There is a
promising private sector and the dynamism of this sector, especially in information
communication technology (ICT), can be an important opportunity.

Corruption and waste: A great deal of attention has been placed on corruption inBangladesh.
This is entirely justified since corruption is a serious problem in the country. Much less attention,
however, has been placed on a related but equally serious problem which is the issue of waste.
Waste occurs when an unnecessary and inappropriate investment is made.

One important difference between corruption and waste is that with waste, there may or may not
be a transfer of resources to a corrupt person but there is certainly a loss to everyone! If a high-
cost factory were built or equipment procured for its proper cost, with nothing added in
improperly padded costs or commissions, it would still create a loss for Bangladesh and its
people. Higher prices have to be paid to cover the costs of the factory or the services of the
equipment, or it is to be shut down. If it is shut down, there is a huge loss. If it operates, the price
of the product or the service would be higher than it need be. Thus nobody benefits.

When waste and corruption are combined, those who profit from a bad project derive benefit but
society still loses. Corruption must be fought, but we must remember that it exists in all societies.
Waste is easier to avoid if there is a serious review of public investments and limited protection,
subsidies, or guarantees to private projects. As there are large losses from bad project selection, a
nation genuinely concerned with growth and stability will try to ensure that public investments
are well chosen.

For selecting appropriate project, an effective review of the economic feasibility of the project is
essential. While this no doubt may involve some extra cost, it is much less costly than the 'free'
feasibility studies provided by potential contractors or financiers who stand to benefit if the
project is built. Such free feasibility studies examine what kind of project should be built rather
than if it is sensible to build the project. These studies are often a rich source of technical data
but a poor and weak guide to underlying economics of the project. Bangladesh must manage to
insulate investment choices from corruption; we should build what should be built at about the
right cost, rather than what should not be built at a wildly inflated cost. We must also avoid
wildly inflated costs even on well-chosen projects.


Opportunities for Bangladesh Economy:

Despite continuous domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic
prospects, Bangladesh remains a developing nation. Its per capita income in 2006 was US$2300
(adjusted by purchasing power parity) compared to the world average of $10,200.

Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its share of the world export market peaked in
the Second World War and the late 1940s at 80% and even in the early 1970s accounted for 70%
of its export earnings. However, polypropylene products began to substitute for jute products
worldwide and the jute industry started to decline.Bangladesh grows very significant quantities
of rice (chal), tea (Cha) and mustard. Although two-thirds of Bangladeshis are farmers, more
than three quarters ofBangladeshs export earnings come from the garment industry, which
began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s due to cheap labour and low conversion cost. In
2002, the industry exported US$5 billion worth of products. The industry now employs more
than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women. A large part of foreign currency earnings also
comes from the remittances sent by expatriates living in other countries.

Worker in a paddy field - a common scene throughout Bangladesh. Two thirds of the population
works in the agricultural sector. Obstacles to growth include frequent cyclones and floods,
inefficient state-owned enterprises, mismanaged port facilities, a growth in the labour force that
has outpaced jobs, inefficient use of energy resources (such as natural gas), insufficient power
supplies, slow implementation of economic reforms, political infighting and corruption.
According to the World Bank, "amongBangladeshs most significant obstacles to growth are
poor governance and weak public institutions."

Despite these hurdles, the country has achieved an average annual growth rate of 5% since 1990,
according to the World Bank. Bangladesh has seen expansion of its middle class, and its
consumer industry has also grown. In December 2005, four years after its report on the emerging
"BRIC" economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), Goldman Sachs named Bangladesh one of
the "Next Eleven," along with Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and seven other
countries. Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment. A number of
multinational corporations and local big business houses such as Beximco, Square, Akij Group,
Ispahani, Navana Group, Habib Group, KDS Group and multinationals such as Unocal
Corporation and Chevron, have made major investments, with the natural gas sector being a
priority. In December 2005, the Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around
6.5%.

One significant contributor to the development of the economy has been the widespread
propagation of micro credit by Muhammad Yunus (awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2006)
through the Grameen Bank. By the late 1990s, Grameen Bank had 2.3 million members, along
with 2.5 million members of other similar organisations.

In order to enhance economic growth, the government set up several export processing zones to
attract foreign investment. These are managed by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone
Authority. According to the IMF gradation, Bangladesh ranked as the 48th largest economy in
the world in 2007. Although the economy has grown at the rate of 6-7% p.a. over the past few
years Bangladesh remains a over-populated and inefficiently-governed nation with high level of
poverty. While more than half of the GDP belongs to the service sector, nearly two-thirds of
Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important
produce. Remittances from Bangladeshis working overseas, mainly in the Middle East and East
Asia, as well as exports of garments are the main source of foreign exchange earning. Economic
growth is rather endogenous with slow growth in foreign direct investment. Although one of the
world's poorest and most densely populated countries, Bangladesh has made major strides to
meet the food needs of its ever growing population. The land is devoted mainly to rice and jute
cultivation, although wheat production has increased in recent years; the country is largely self-
sufficient in rice production. Nonetheless, an estimated 10% to 15% of the population faces
serious nutritional risk, and that food security is at risk for 45% of the population. Bangladesh's
predominantly agricultural economy depends heavily on an erratic monsoonal cycle, with
periodic flooding and drought. Although improving at a very fast rate, infrastructure to support
transportation, communications, power supply and water distribution is poorly
developed. Bangladeshis limited in its reserves of oil, but recently there was huge development
in coal mining. While the service sector has expanded rapidly during last two decades, country's
industrial base remains narrow. The country's main endowments include its vast human resource
base, rich agricultural land, relatively abundant water, and substantial reserves of natural gas
although delepting very fast and may disappear in the next 7-8 years.

Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has received more than $30 billion in grants, aid and
loan commitments from foreign donors, only about $15 billion of which has been disbursed
reflecting poor absorption capacity. Major donors include the World Bank, the Asian
Development Bank, the UN Development Program, the European Commission, the United
States, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and west European countries.Bangladesh historically has run a large
trade deficit, financed largely through aid receipts and remittances from workers overseas.
Foreign reserves dropped markedly in 2001 but stabilized in the USD3 to USD4 billion range (or
about 3 months' import cover). In January 2007, reserves stood at $3.74 billion, and they
increased to $5.8 billion by January 2008, according to the Bank of Bangladesh, the central bank.
However, aid-dependence of the country has systamatically been reduced since the beginning of
1990s.

The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has predicted
textile exports will rise from US$7.90 billion earned in 2005-06 to US$15 billion by 2011. In
part this optimism stems from how well the sector has fared since the end of textile and clothing
quotas, under the Multifibre Agreement, in early 2005.

According to a United Nations Development Programme report "Sewing Thoughts: How to
Realize Human Development Gains in the Post-Quota World" Bangladesh has been able to offset
a decline in European sales by cultivating new markets in the United States.

Knitwear posted the strongest growth of all textile products in 2005-06, surging 35.38 per cent to
US$2.82 billion. On the downside however, the sector's strong growth came amid sharp falls in
prices for textile products on the world market, with growth subsequently dependent upon large
increases in volume.

Bangladesh's quest to boost the quantity of textile trade was also helped by US and EU caps on
Chinese textiles. The US cap restricts growth in imports of Chinese textiles to 12.5 per cent next
year and between 15 and 16 per cent in 2008. The EU deal similarly manages import growth
until 2008.

Bangladesh may continue to benefit from these restrictions over the next two years, however a
climate of falling global textile prices forces wage rates the centre of the nation's efforts to
increase market share.

Prior to the Wage Board's announcement of its recommended minimum wage, the rate had
remained unchanged at Tk950 for more than 12 years. Although the government may allow up to
three years for the new wage to be implemented, and inevitably there will be compliance issues
as manufacturers drag their feet, it seems politically untenable for wages to remain at their
current levels given the unprecedented industrial unrest.

In response to the Wage Board's initial draft recommendation of a minimum wage of Tk1, 604 to
be increased to Tk1, 800 after eight months, the BGMEA declared over 50 per cent of factories
would be ruined within three months. While this claim is no doubt an exaggeration, the capacity
of Bangladesh's textile industry to absorb a significant wage hike as margins become tighter is a
key question which hangs over the future of the industry. Bangladesh's textile sector is
concentrated in export processing zones in Dhaka and Chittagong. These zones, which are
administered by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority, aim to offer "a congenial
investment climate, free from cumbersome procedures" according to Bangladesh Export
Promotion Bureau's website.

They offer a range of incentives to potential investors including 10 year tax holidays, duty free
import of capital goods, raw materials and building materials, exemptions on income tax on
salaries paid to foreign nationals for three years and dividend tax exemptions for the period of
the tax holiday.

All goods produced in the zones are able to be exported duty free, in addition to
whichBangladesh benefits from the Generalized System of Preferences in US, European and
Japanese markets and is also endowed with Most Favored Nation status from theUnited States.

Furthermore, Bangladesh imposes no ceiling on investment in the EPZs and allows full
repatriation of profits.

The formation of labor unions within the EPZs is prohibited as are strikes.

Bangladesh's exports to the U.S. surpassed $1.9 billion in 1999. Bangladesh also exports
significant amounts of garments and knitwear to the EU market.

Bangladesh also has significant jute, leather, shrimp, pharmaceutical, and ceramics industries.

Bangladesh has been a world leader in its efforts to end the use of child labor in garment
factories. On July 4, 1995, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Export Association,
International Labor Organization, and UNICEF signed a memorandum of understanding on the
elimination of child labor in the garment sector. Implementation of this pioneering agreement
began in fall 1995, and by the end of 1999, child labor in the garment trade virtually had been
eliminated. The labor-intensive process of ship breaking for scrap has developed to the point
where it now meets most of Bangladesh's domestic steel needs. Other industries include sugar,
tea, leather goods, newsprint, pharmaceutical, and fertilizer production.

The Bangladesh government continues to court foreign investment, something it has done fairly
successfully in private power generation and gas exploration and production, as well as in other
sectors such as cellular telephony, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. In 1989, the same year it signed
a bilateral investment treaty with the United States, it established a Board of Investment to
simplify approval and start-up procedures for foreign investors, although in practice the board
has done little to increase investment. The government created the Bangladesh Export Processing
Zone Authority to manage the various export processing zones. The agency currently manages
EPZs in Adamjee,Chittagong, Comilla, Dhaka, Ishwardi, Karnaphuli, Mongla, and Uttara. An
EPZ has also been proposed for Sylhet. The government has given the private sector permission
to build and operate competing EPZs-initial construction on a Korean EPZ started in 1999. In
June 1999, the AFL-CIO petitioned the U.S. Government to deny Bangladeshaccess
to U.S. markets under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), citing the country's failure
to meet promises made in 1992 to allow freedom of association in EPZs.

Sylhet is fast becoming the retail capital of Bangladesh, with many shopping centres being built
by expatriates to serve fellow expatriates visiting Sylhet and the emerging middleclass. Many of
these developments hark back to Britain.


Threats for Bangladesh Economy:
Ironically enough, opportunities can turn into potential threats. In the past, Bangladeshachieved a
slow progress in poverty reduction. In the future, improper management of development may
accentuate poverty and inequality leading to social instability. The threat is that governance
would become worse and economic decisions would further concentrate wealth, fund capital
flight, and increase social tensions. The efficiency in use of resources, and a political strategy for
stability, equity, and growth is of greater priority in the coming years than it is now. Several
other developments also threaten to undermine the socio-political stability and future economic
progress, such as the challenge to ensuring good governance and stable law and order situation,
reducing corruption and ensuring political stability, and adverse global developments including
terrorism and sharp increase in commodity prices in the global market.

What of other threats? The loss or reduction in garment exports is one such possibility. Building
up a real competitive advantage by lowering port and other transport costs and informal charges
and bringing in more efficiency in garments production is the best and only response. Similarly,
any development that adversely affects the healthy growth of remittances will create a serious
threat to economic and social progress.

It is very hard to improve the quality of education and skills within a short time, just as it is hard
to provide good health services. The failure to enhance the supply of quality education and good
health is likely to create another threat. For the majority with poor education, the prospects for
earning a decent income to move and stay out of poverty are not good. For them, indeed jobs will
remain insecure and low paying. To help the growing number of young workers find decent jobs,
to increase competitiveness, and to improve poverty situation, finding a way to improve critical
services, including quality education and health services, is necessary. Perhaps, at this stage, we
can put these general points together into a comprehensive format as in Table 1 and Table II
various elements; but it is a beginning to visualizing the overall situation.
Other major threats are as follows:
Corruption
Political Unrest
Terrorism
Current Unrest in RMG Sector
The acute clutch of Indian Fiber which is dominating native textiles.
Lack of Govt. proper Initiatives
Vulnerability of Agriculture Sector
Money Laundering
Extremely dependence on donors
Improper Fiscal Management
Unnecessary Complicate Bureaucracy
Gas shortage
Electricity shortage
Trade deficits
No particular principle for fuel management.
Conclusion: As we have done the analysis, it is useful to list all elements but like a
good recipe a well-functioning economy or society requires the proper mixture and
sequencing of policies to be just right. Furthermore, the outcomes (e.g. high poverty) are
distinct from and rely upon the causes (e.g. lack of decent employment, poor health and
education, high corruption) that contribute to them. Of course, poor health and education and
rising corruption create many other ills in society. Thus getting the causality clear, which can
and often does flow in both directions, helps to understand the importance of combination of
different policies. Rather than trying to do everything equally all at once, it helps to have a
sense of priority. Putting the prioritised elements together in a mutually supportive and
logical package creates a strategy. The desirable outcome of a SWOT should be a strategic
plan to address the challenges.

Moreover, there is also the question of feasibility and timing. Lowering corruption is an
excellent idea, but this requires a complicated set of policies and building institutions that
take effect only over time. Raising educational quality (as opposed to coverage) requires
training of teachers, developing curricula that fit current circumstances, providing better
incentives, improving supervision and management, and other measures that can take several
years.

A further element concerns the urgency or pace of change of negative or positive
developments. Is income inequality rising very fast? That would suggest moving
aggressively to deal with it. Is the garment industry in need of sizeable cost reductions in
transport and port charges? This too could be dealt quickly through increasing efficiency and
improving management, so that more of the existing base can be preserved and expanded in
future. Thus, by identifying the key issues and establishing their relation with each other, a
degree of clarity is possible that helps to make one clear about priorities and the time a policy
will take to bring the outcomes.

Ways Forward: Considering the strength, weakness, opportunities and threats
of Bangladesh Economy my recommendations are as follows:


To reduce the corruption to minimal level and raise consciousness and develop ethical
value as well as patriotism.

To Maintain a stable political environment


Act of extreme terrorism needs to reduce in order to attain sound economy.

To attract the foreign investors. They are the heart of Economy to increase the economic
activity.


Agriculture is the heart of our Economy, we should precede agriculture first.

RMG Industries is flourishing the Economy, we should take special care of this sector.

Unnecessary activity of Bureaucracy is strongly discouraged.


To make sure that gas and electricity supply is sound.

Proper Govt. Initiative to make environment congenial to Investment.

Increase the standard of education in universities by rendering mandatory research work.

To adopt the technological advancement positively and make sure the facility has reached
to the root levels.

The proper policies to facilitate modern economic zones, including public-private
partnerships must be adopted.

Existing zones and industrial estates should move towards commercialized principles.

We have to be realistic and use our natural recourses.

Strong diplomacy is needed to resolve the technological learning curve.

To take advantage of Chittagong port.