Bangladesh is among the countries most supportive of a free-market and is the most free-market, trade-oriented country in South Asia, according to a research conducted by the US-based Pew Research Centre.
Of the 44 countries surveyed, Bangladesh was the world’s second most supportive of a free market economy with 80% support; only Vietnam with 95% support ranked higher. The next three countries were South Korea, China and Ghana.
The report said Bangladesh had a much higher approval level for trade and foreign investment than India and Pakistan, the two other South Asian countries surveyed.
Bangladeshis (80%) are eight percentage points more in favour of the free market than Indians (72%) and eighteen percentage points more in favour of it than Pakistanis (63%).
Ninety-one percent of Bangladeshis said growing trade was “very good” or “somewhat good,” as compared with 76% of Indians saying that.
As Forbes.com’s Asia Correspondent Alyssa Ayres puts it: “At least as far as public opinion is concerned, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a capitalist haven.”
Bangladeshi public highly favours open trade, believes in the employment generation capacity of trade, believes that wages improve with trade and regards foreign investment as net positive.
Bangladeshi public opinion holds more strongly to the belief that trade increases wages and generates employment compared with that of India or Pakistan, but 78% of Indians said they were optimistic about a better life at home and recommended remaining in India compared with 71% of Bangladeshi respondents recommending remaining in the country.
This month, the second part of a 44-country public opinion survey conducted last spring by Pew Research Centre was released.
The global survey asked respondents their feelings about losses and benefits from trade, their beliefs about inequality, their levels of optimism for the future and their support for a free market.
The first report released by the centre last month assessed beliefs about trade, and the one released this month detailed findings on inequality and beliefs about capitalism and the market.
Forbes.com’s Ayres said Bangladesh had done very well from export-oriented economic activity especially in entry-level manufacturing during the last twenty years.
Bangladesh is the number two garment exporter in the world, after China.
Problems with workplace safety and labour rights remain, yet in excess of 5,000 factories employ some four million Bangladeshis, mainly women. The sector has significantly boosted the economy.
Ayres writes: “The garment sector is export-oriented, supplying some $20 billion in exports to the world. That Bangladeshis see trade and the free market system in a very positive light, despite the “People’s Republic” in the country’s official name, makes a great deal of sense given the positive impact Bangladesh has seen from trade and the free market.
“It’s a good news story about globalisation that the world often misses.”