Bangladesh Trade, Exports and Imports

March 10, 2010Bangladeshby EconomyWatch Content


Initially known as East Pakistan, Bangladesh is a poor country featuring negative trade balance since its independence in 1971. The country’s economy experienced vast improvement in the 1990s. However, foreign trade in South Asian region still is an area of concern. 

Bangladesh Trade: History

The value of imports doubled between 1971 and 1991 as compared to the value of exports. The trade deficit has declined considerably owing to an increase in exports since 1991. A closer look at the trade statistics of the country reveals that in 1989-90, imports exceeded exports by 120%. This percentage came down to 56% in 1996 and 62% in 1997. The economy of Bangladesh was once riding on jute, its major produce. In the late 1940s, its share of the world jute export market was 80%, which came down to 70% in the 1970s. Unfortunately, the trend of polypropylene products across the globe led to a setback for the jute industry of Bangladesh.


Bangladesh Imports: Commodities

Here are the major import commodities of Bangladesh:

  • Machinery and equipment

  • Chemicals

  • Iron and steel

  • Textiles

  • Foodstuffs

  • Petroleum products

  • Cement 

Bangladesh Imports: Partners

The following were Bangladesh’s import partners as of 2008:

  • China: 15.8%

  • India: 15.7%

  • Kuwait: 8.1%

  • Singapore: 7.6%

  • Japan: 4.4% 

Bangladesh Exports: Commodities

Here are the major export commodities of Bangladesh:

  • Garments (totaling $12.3 billion in FY09)

  • Frozen fish and seafood

  • Jute and jute goods

  • Leather 

Bangladesh Trade: Export Partners

The following were Bangladesh’s export partners as of 2008:

  • United States: 24%

  • Germany: 15.3%

  • United Kingdom: 10%

  • France: 7.4%

  • The Netherlands: 5.5%

  • Italy: 4.5%

  • Spain: 4.2% 

Bangladesh Trade: Growth

The government of Bangladesh undertook significant steps during the 1980s. Consequently there was a tremendous increase in the export of ready-made-garments and knitwear, which garnered maximum foreign exchange for the country. Cheap labor and low conversion costs are the major factors behind the growth of Bangladesh’s garment industry. Over 3 million Bangladeshis (90% women) are employed in this industry. Bangladesh shares excellent trade relations with the US, showing noteworthy trade surplus with the latter. The country is an active partner of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. A number of export processing zones have been set up by the government to enhance economic growth by attracting foreign investment.


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