Bangladesh economy

Few subjects matter more than the future nature of Asia’s economic rise. But what of it’s history? A bumper month of Asian independence days culminates this weekend with the anniversary of Malaysia’s handover from Britain, on August 31 1957. And what better excuse for beyondbrics to run a rule over the dramatically different economic trajectories of a selection of Asian countries that emerged from European colonial rule in the decades following the second world war. Read more

Remittances sent home by Bangladeshi workers overseas rose 19.7 per cent to a record monthly high of $1.4bn in July, boosting the country’s GDP outlook, bolstering the current account surplus and helping to offset an over-reliance on garment exports, analysts said.

“The improvement is credit positive for Bangladesh (Ba3 stable) because it suggests a bolstering of the sovereign’s external payments position,” said Moody’s, the credit rating agency, in an August 11 report (see chart below).

Bangladesh, the eighth biggest remittance recipient country in the world, relies on such inflows to drive consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 80 per cent of domestic GDP. Moody’s projected the remittance inflows will push GDP growth above 6 per cent this fiscal year, up from 5.8 per cent last fiscal year. Read more

India ElectionsThe election campaign by Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to become India’s next prime minister is ruffling feathers across the subcontinent in Bangladesh.

Under its current Congress-led government, India has been more supportive than most nations towards Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League administration in Dhaka and its contentious victory in Bangladesh’s general election, which was boycotted by the opposition. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was left weakened and directionless. Read more

Ashraful, 30, was a line quality supervisor in the New Wave Style factory on the seventh floor of Rana Plaza. He can’t remember April 24 2013 but in the weeks following manufacturing’s worst ever disaster, he spent weeks chained to a hospital bed. Like many who were trapped in the destroyed building Ashraful was deeply traumatised and can no longer smell, taste or work.

It was only after this disaster and his subsequent unemployment that his wife, Lucky, 25, began also working in the garments trade, for a company called Standard Garments. Like millions of Bangladeshi women, this was the only avenue open for her to support her family. But following the disaster has come a mounting concern that while Bangladesh is still the go-to location for low-end garments manufacturing, other emerging markets may soon develop the capacity to compete. Read more

By Iftekhar Zaman, Transparency International, Bangladesh

One year ago today, three thousand garment workers started a typical work day at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

Like many of the country’s 4m garment workers – over 80 per cent of whom are young women – they earned just over one dollar a day for up to 19 hours of work; went without water or toilets; and crucially were not protected by basic workplace safety standards. They walked up one staircase: the only way in and out of the building. Read more

By Ifty Islam of Asian Tiger Capital

A “patient in intensive care” or a “slow-moving train wreck” – I’m not sure which of these analogies best describes the state of democracy in Bangladesh – maybe both? But there can be little doubt that after a tumultuous 2013, the country’s political system is in trouble and a majority of country’s 160m people are desperate for a solution and end to the mindless violence.

The human tragedy in terms of hundreds of innocent civilians being killed – including many burnt to death by petrol bombs thrown at buses and trucks, and thousands injured, has been horrific. But the extent of polarisation between prime minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia and their increasingly bitter and entrenched “no compromise” mindset is perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the current crisis. Read more

Five months after the Rana Plaza factory collapse that left more than 1,100 dead and caused international outrage, Bangladesh is trying to improve the working conditions of its garment workers and allow for greater labour representation. The FT’s Ben Marino reports from Dhaka.

The US has suspended preferential access to its market for Bangladesh because of what it sees as slow progress in enforcing heath and safety standards in the country’s largest export industry, ready-made garments, following the Rana Plaza factory disaster (pictured).

The move, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday, could damage the international reputation of the garment industry and hit Bangladesh’s exports. Read more

Never give up hope: soldiers digging through the rubble of the Bangladesh factory collapse say a woman has been found alive 17 days after the disaster, the BBC reports.

That’s one life against the 1,000-plus that have been lost. It’s just very unlikely there will be more survivors to add to the 2,500 people who have escaped death. It’s virtually certain there will be more bodies. But rescuers deserve every credit for perseverance. Read more

The deadly fire at a clothing factory in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in November, in which 117 workers died, could have consequences for the country’s exports as well as for its tarnished reputation as a manufacturing power. Read more