Bangladesh is becoming South Asia’s “economic bull case”, reported Wall Street Journal on March 3. WSJ’s Hong Kong-based reporter Mike Bird claimed Bangladesh is notable in South Asia for being the “closest proxy” for the successful development models seen at various stages in South Korea, China, and Vietnam.
Bangladesh provides the world with another example that export-led development has the best modern-day track record of moving countries from very low-income levels into middle-income status, the report said.
Bangladesh achieved a landmark economic status last week when the United Nations’ Committee for Development Policy recommended that the country graduate from the least developed country categorisation it has held for most parts since its independence 50 years ago.
The report also stated that Bangladesh’s exports have risen by around 80 percent in US dollar terms in the past decade through the country’s booming garment industry, while India and Pakistan’s exports have declined marginally. In 2011, Bangladesh’s GDP per capita in US dollar terms was 40 percent below India’s. Bangladesh’s GDP per capita caught up last year due to India’s pandemic-related slump, but the IMF expects the gap will not widen any time soon.
The report also suggested that Bangladesh’s meteoric economic rise should be accompanied by greater cooperation in Southeast Asia. Bangladesh finds itself outside of multilateral Asian economic cooperation like ASEAN, RCEP, or the CPTPP. For starters, diversifying the country’s manufacturing exports through greater participation in intra-Asian supply chains and closer economic relationship with neighbours in the east can provide better results. Citing Vietnam and Cambodia, the author suggested Bangladesh’s next step should be to transition towards higher-value forms of manufacturing and exporting.