A South Asian nation located near economic powerhouses India and China, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh shipped an estimated US$42.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 33% increase since 2015 and a 5.3% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
Given Bangladesh’s population of 159.5 million people, its total $42.2 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $270 for every resident in the South Asian country.
In macroeconomic terms, Bangladesh’s total exported goods represent 5.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($761.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 7.9% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Bangladesh’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Bangladesh also provided $5.5 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 0.7% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Bangladesh’s unemployment rate was 4.2% in 2017 down from 4.9% during 2016, according to Trading Economics.
Bangladesh’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bangladeshi global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bangladesh.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$18.9 billion (44.9% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $17.7 billion (42%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $1.1 billion (2.5%)
- Footwear: $936.4 million (2.2%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $641.6 million (1.5%)
- Fish: $525.5 million (1.2%)
- Headgear: $302.6 million (0.7%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $293.7 million (0.7%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $166.5 million (0.4%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $105.4 million (0.2%)
Bangladesh’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated accounting for 96.4% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Raw hides and skins excluding furskins and leather was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 9.7% year over year since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was knit or crochet clothing and accessories which was up by 7.8%.
Bangladesh ‘s shipments of non-knit and uncrocheted clothing and accessories posted the third-fastest gain in value rose 7.1% year over year.
The leading decliner among the top 10 Bangladeshi export categories was paper yarn and woven fabric via a -23.8% drop.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, non-knit and uncrocheted men’s suits and trousers represent Bangladesh ’s most valuable exported product at 15.5% of the country’s total. In second place were knit or crocheted T-shirts and vests (14.7%) trailed by knit or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (12.3%), non-knit and uncrocheted women’s clothing (10.8%), non-knit and uncrocheted men’s shirts (5.6%), knit or crocheted women’s clothing (5%), knit or crocheted men’s shirts (2.5%), knit or crocheted women’s underwear and pajamas (2.3%), knit or crocheted infant clothing (2.1%) then non-knit and uncrocheted men’s coats and jackets (2%).
The following types of Bangladeshi product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$18.9 billion (Up by 7.9% since 2017)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $17.6 billion (Up by 7.3%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $987.9 million (Down by -6.5%)
- Footwear: $722.3 million (Up by 2.2%)
- Fish: $503.1 million (Down by -14.4%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $416.1 million (Down by -39.3%)
- Headgear: $284.3 million (Up by 0.6%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $228.5 million (Up by 18.5%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $95.6 million (Up by 11.5%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $37.8 million (Up by 96.4%)
Bangladesh has highly positive net exports in the international trade of apparel. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bangladesh’s strong competitive advantages under the two leading product categories.
Overall Bangladesh incurred a -$10.8 billion trade deficit during 2018, increasing by 9.6% from -$9.8 billion one year earlier.
Below are exports from Bangladesh that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Bangladesh’s goods trail Bangladeshi importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$6.7 billion (Up by 12.9% since 2017)
- Cotton: -$6.5 billion (Up by 5.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$4.6 billion (Up by 50.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.8 billion (Up by 6.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$2.7 billion (Up by 30%)
- Vehicles: -$2 billion (Up by 4.3%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$1.9 billion (Up by 13.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.8 billion (Down by -7.3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$1.7 billion (Up by 3.1%)
- Cereals: -$1.5 billion (Down by -33.3%)
Bangladesh has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery, notably computers and knitting including stitch-bonding machines.
Bangladeshi Export Companies
Not one Bangladeshi corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list a number of exporters located in Bangladesh. Selected examples are shown below:
- Advanced Chemical Industries (pharmaceuticals, consumer brands, agribusiness)
- ASM Chemical Industries (industrial chemicals)
- Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (oil products)
- Beximco Pharma (pharmaceuticals)
- Dragon Group (clothing, notably sweaters)
- Kazi Farms Group (poultry)
- KDS Group (garments, textiles, steel)
- Petrobangla (oil, natural gas, minerals)
- Pragoti (automobiles)
- Walton (motorcycles)
Bangladesh’s capital city is Dhaka, formerly called Dacca and the country’s largest city in terms of population and geographic area.
See also Bangladesh’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on South Asia: Bangladesh. Accessed on April 13, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 6, 2019
Foreign Trade, United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 13, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 13, 2019
Wikipedia, Bangladesh. Accessed on April 13, 2019
Wikipedia, Category:Companies of Bangladesh. Accessed on April 13, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bangladesh. Accessed on April 13, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 29, 2019