Bangladesh has made only modest progress on facilitating export and import processes in the last six years, according to the ESCAP International Supply Chain Connectivity Index.
The country’s score of 22 on the index which goes up to 100, ranks it 137th out of 179 countries between Zimbabwe and Cambodia. This is considerably lower than the gross size of the economy which is ranked by the World Bank as the 59th largest economy in the world between Hungary and Angola. This gap is one indicator of the unrealised potential of the economy.
Only two states outside East Asia and the EU score above 50 in the index, so the country’s score is not unusual but it is undoubtedly worsened by trade barriers in the SAARC region.
Bangladesh’s RMG sector shows that the country has much to gain by competing in the global market. Our shipbreaking sector has large environmental costs which need to be set against economic benefits, but in global terms, it reduces costs for ship owners, meaning that Bangladeshi workers are already an important cog in global trade.
There is scope to make far better use of the country’s potential by improving trade connectivity. The signing of TICFA this week is a step in the right direction.
A bigger boost can be provided by improving regional trade connections, particularly by improving transport and encouraging cross border enterprise on the talked about Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-China Economic Corridor. All political parties should work together to make sure that full advantage is taken of opportunities to increase trade and provide better livelihoods.