Last update: January 2009
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Basic Economic Facts
$228.4 billion (2008 est.)
GDP per head:
$1,500 (2008 est.)
5.9% (2008 est.)
9.4% (2008 est.)
Garments and knitwear, frozen seafood, jute goods and leather. Exports are dominated by garments and knitwear, currently 73% of export earnings.
Major trading partners:
Export: $13.97 billion (2008 est.), US 23%, Germany 13%, UK 9.1%, France 5.5%, Belgium 4% (2007) Export Commodities: garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood.
Import: $20.17 billion (2008 est.), China 15%, India 14.3%, Kuwait 8.3%, Singapore 6.2%, Hong Kong 4.2% (2007) Import Commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs, petroleum products, cement.
Aid & development:
Bangladesh has made significant development progress since 1971, including becoming self-sufficient in food production, significantly reducing its population growth and improving in several social indicators including education. Donors consider there has been generally good macroeconomic management since this government came to power. The publication of an IPRSP (Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) in March 2003 led to the re-opening of discussions with the International Financial Institutions.
In June 2003, the IMF approved a Poverty Reduction & Growth Facility (PRGF) package worth $490 million while the World Bank Development Support Credit (DSC) of $300 million, plus up to $250 million of World Bank projects. The World Bank approved a further DSC of $200 million in July 2004. Bi-lateral donors support a wide range of sectors. Work includes a six year primary education programme with Government supported by six bi-laterals, the EU, the ADB, World Bank, and UNICEF, and a joint Dutch/UK funded financial management reform programme.
Bangladesh's Relations with the UK
The relations between the UK and Bangladesh are wide-ranging. There have been a number of high profile visits between the countries. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith visited Bangladesh on 9 April, meeting Chief Adviser Fakhruddin, and the Home and Foreign Advisers. The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband visited on 8-9 February 2008. He met Chief Adviser Fakhruddin, Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Choudhury, senior government officials, and civil society representatives. The Secretary of State for International Development(DfID), Douglas Alexander visited from 18-19 December 2007. He saw areas affected by cyclone Sidr, where UK funding is supporting rehabilitation and met the Foreign and Finance Advisers.
Previous Prime Ministerial visits were by Prime Minister Blair and Mrs Blair in January 2002, and John Major in 1997. The Prince of Wales visited in February 1997, and the Princess Royal in November 2000.
Chief Adviser Fakhruddin visited the UK in March 2008. He met the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development (DFID). Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Choudhury met the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband in London in September 2007. Earlier in April 2007 he met with Margaret Beckett, the then Foreign Secretary.
In October 2003, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) held its annual plenary conference in Dhaka attended by a delegation of British MPs and members of the House representing the UK branch of the CPA.
The relationship has also been shaped by the approx 300,000 (2001 Census) people of Bangladeshi origin in the UK (mostly from the Sylhet region) who help to keep the ties between the two countries strong. Anwar Choudhury's (who is of Bangladeshi origin) appointment as the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh in May 2004 further highlighted this connection.
Source: Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
UK Development Assistance
The Department for International Development (DFID) has one of its largest programmes in Bangladesh with a budget of £125 million for 2004/5/6.
Its main aim is poverty reduction and enhancing the livelihoods and basic services of the poor. A major share of the development assistance is used for human development and institutional strengthening with an increasing emphasis on governance. Recent new programmes focus on primary education and support to the most vulnerable communities. The 2004 floods were some of the worse seen on record in Bangladesh. Over 70% of the country was immersed in water and deaths were in their hundreds. DFID provided a relief package of £29 million to help the victims of the floods.
The current DFID country strategy for Bangladesh shows a particular concern for the poorest and most vulnerable groups. DFID seeks to promote better governance, more effective institutions and improved realisation of human rights, particularly for women. DFID also strives to ensure that wider UK Government and Bangladesh Government policies consistently support poverty elimination.
Trade and Investment with the UK
UK exports to Bangladesh up to November 2004 were £61 million, an increase of 20% on the same period in 2003. The main exports to Bangladesh are power generation equipment (10% of the total), general industrial machinery and dyeing, tanning and colouring materials. The UK has also been traditionally successful in the construction sector, especially bridge building and also in the consultancy and education sectors.
UK imports from Bangladesh had reached £600 million by November 2004, an increase of 13% on the same period in 2003. Ready made garments, which enjoy tariff free access to the EU under the Generalised System of Preferences Scheme (GSP), account for approximately 79% of all imports with seafood and textile yarn and fabrics being the most significant other sectors. The UK is historically the largest investor in Bangladesh with over 50 companies operating in the market.
Cultural Relations with the UK
The relations between the UK and Bangladesh are wide-ranging and warm. There have been a number of high profile visits between the countries, including Royal visits by The Prince of Wales in February 1997, and the Princess Royal in November 2000. The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair visited Bangladesh in January 2002. More recently there have been visits by Douglas Alexander, Minister of State, Sir Michael and Lady Jay - The Permanent Under Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Suma Chkrabarti, the Permanent Under Secretary for the Department of International Development.
From Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Morshed Khan met Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in London in May 2003.
Source: British High Commission
Public / Statutory holidays
Bangladesh does not have a good human rights record. Bangladesh signed the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in September 2000 and was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2005. It is also a signatory to the other five core human rights instruments.
On coming to power the BNP-led government pledged to take a number of actions to improve human rights during its term in office. However significant steps including the separation of the judiciary and the executive in lower level courts, and the establishment of an independent Human Rights Commission and Ombudsman have not been taken.
Successive governments in Bangladesh have failed to curb serious human rights violations arising from the use of legislation and widespread practices in the law-enforcement and justice system which violate international human rights standards. These violations include torture, deaths in custody; arbitrary detention of government opponents and others; excessive use of force leading at times to extrajudicial executions; the death penalty; sporadic attacks against member of minority groups; acts of violence against women; and harassment of journalists.
An independent website that focuses on human rights in Bangladesh can be found at:
For more information click here.
Source: UKTI - Bangladesh Country Profile
Last update: January 2009
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