Ekonomske študije
Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Population 158 million
GDP 1,162 US$
C
Country risk assessment
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Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2012-13 2013-14 2014-2015  2015-2016(f)
GDP growth (%) 6.0 6.3 6.4 6.6
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 7.5 7.0 6.4 6.6
Budget balance* (% GDP) -3.4 -3.1 -3.2 -3.8
Current account balance (% GDP) 1.5 -0.6 -1.1 -0.6
Public debt (% GDP) 19.0 19.9 20.5 21.0

 

(f) Forecast

* Includes aid

Tax year: from July to June

STRENGTHS

  • Competitive clothing sector thanks to cheap labour
  • Substantial remittances from emigrant workers, located mainly in the Gulf states
  • International aid helps cover financing needs
  • Moderate level of national debt
  • Favourable demographics: 45% of Bangladeshis are under 15

WEAKNESSES

  • Economy vulnerable to changes in global competition in textile sector
  • Very low per capita income
  • Recurring political and social tensions
  • Shortcomings in terms of business climate, especially regarding infrastructure
  • Recurring natural disasters (cyclones, severe floods) which result in significant damage and loss of harvests

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth is expected to remain dynamic, but recent political and social unrest will continue to penalise investment

Activity remained buoyant during the 2015 fiscal year but the political and social unrest occurring from January again affected the economic life of the country. On 5 January 2015, the anniversary of the contested parliamentary elections in 2014, the opposition called for a transport blockade. This slowed the transfer of goods and drove up the cost of transport. Although the blockade was lifted in April, it affected investor confidence. In 2016, private investment will remain constrained by uncertainties over the country's social and political stability. Nonetheless, the country will benefit from a large investment by a Canadian company operating in the photovoltaic sector. This project will, moreover, help develop the country's electrical capacity, which is regularly affected by power cuts. Several public infrastructure projects are also due to be put in place.

Meanwhile, household consumption, the main component of GDP, is expected to remain dynamic. Remittances will continue to sustain demand, as will the agricultural sector, which employs half the economically active population.

Nonetheless, the export of textile products is likely to be hit by sluggish world demand and worsening price competitiveness. Meanwhile, after suspending its Generalised System of Preferences for Bangladesh following the collapse of the Rana Plazza in April 2013, the United States has just confirmed that it will not be restored. Despite the efforts made by Bangladesh, the improvements in working conditions for employees in the textile sector appear insufficient.

Finally, inflation is expected to remain high in 2016. Relative control over food prices and moderation in oil prices will, however, contain price increases.

 

Stronger external position

The 2015-2016 budget includes major spending plans and is based on ambitious growth and revenue assumptions. This budget prioritises spending on education and infrastructure. However, it does not include measures aimed at broadening the tax base. Accordingly, the deficit and the public debt are likely to deteriorate in

2016, though remaining at moderate levels.

With regard to the external accounts, the current account balance is expected to recover in 2016, despite the constraints putting pressure on exports. This is because lower oil prices help reduce the country's energy bill. Moreover, remittances by expatriate workers are expected to stabilise.

In 2015, the foreign exchange reserves continued to rise, reflecting the Central Bank's intervention aimed at limiting the currency's appreciation against the euro. These reserves have grown three-fold since November 2011 and are now deemed to be at a satisfactory level (over 5 months of imports). The country's ability to withstand sudden capital outflows has thus significantly improved.

The IMF programme, from which the country benefitted in 2012 following the balance of payments crisis, was subject to the implementation of banking system reforms. The banking sector was suffering from arbitrary risk management and lack of supervision. Steps have recently been taken to strengthen governance and improve risk management.

 

Fragile political appeasement

The January 2014 parliamentary elections took place against a backdrop of widespread violence. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – the opposition party – boycotted the elections as it disagreed with the electoral process. The ruling party (the Awami League) was re-elected under widely contested conditions. The situation returned to calm during 2014 until the BNP called for early elections, with the Awami League refusing to take part in any talks. On 5 January 2015, the anniversary of the 2014 parliamentary elections, the BNP called for a blockade of the country's transport system in order to force the holding of early elections. This blockade was accompanied by violent clashes with the police. Thousands of protestors were arrested, including senior BNP leaders. The violence claimed the lives of over 120 people and lasted until April. The opposition ended the strikes and the blockade but accuses the Awami League of wanting to transform Bangladesh into a one-party State. For its part, the government considers that the opposition is conducting acts of terrorism. There is reason to fear a stalemate and renewed violence. Nonetheless, the Awami League and the government enjoy public support according to a poll carried out between May and June 2015.

 

Last update : January 2016

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