A South Asian nation located near economic powerhouses India and China, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh shipped an estimated US$45.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 44% increase since 2015 and a 1.4% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Bangladeshi taka depreciated by -8.3% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -1.2% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker local currency in Bangladesh makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Given Bangladesh’s population of 166.6 million people, its total $45.7 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $275 for every resident in the South Asian country.
Bangladesh’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bangladeshi global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bangladesh.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$20.3 billion (44.5% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $19.4 billion (42.4%)
- Footwear: $1.1 billion (2.4%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $1 billion (2.2%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $603.3 million (1.3%)
- Fish: $532.9 million (1.2%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $368.3 million (0.8%)
- Headgear: $332.6 million (0.7%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $139.8 million (0.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $113.2 million (0.2%)
Bangladesh’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated accounting for 96.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Articles made from leather or animal gut represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 19.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was footwear via a 9.1% gain. Bangladesh’s shipments of headgear posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 6.9%.
The leading decliner among Bangladesh’s top 10 export categories was raw hides, skins not furskins and leather due to a -20.4% drop year over year
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, non-knitted and uncrocheted men’s suits and trousers represent Bangladesh ’s most valuable exported product at 15% of the country’s total. In second place were knitted or crocheted T-shirts and vests (14.6%) trailed by knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (12.2%), non-knitted and uncrocheted women’s clothing (11.6%), non-knitted and uncrocheted men’s shirts (5.3%), knitted or crocheted women’s clothing (5.2%), knitted or crocheted men’s shirts (2.4%), knitted or crocheted women’s underwear and pajamas (2.2%), non-knitted and uncrocheted men’s coats and jackets (2.1%) then knitted or crocheted infant clothing (1.9%).
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$20.3 billion (Up by 1.2% since 2018)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $19.2 billion (Up by 2.8%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $933.7 million (Down by -9.1%)
- Footwear: $878.7 million (Up by 9.9%)
- Fish: $464 million (Down by -7%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $345.1 million (Down by -30.3%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $317.2 million (Up by 30.1%)
- Headgear: $311.8 million (Up by 6.4%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $87.3 million (Down by -16.8%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $69.8 million (Up by 84.5%)
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 an estimated -$4.7 billion trade deficit during 2019, decreasing by -61.6% from -$12.1 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$5.8 billion (Down by -15% since 2018)
- Cotton: -$5.4 billion (Down by -21.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$4.4 billion (Down by -14.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.2 billion (Down by -20.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$2.9 billion (Up by 4.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.1 billion (Down by -10.8%)
- Vehicles: -$1.7 billion (Down by -17.1%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$1.6 billion (Down by -17%)
- Manmade filaments: -$1.4 billion (Up by 2.1%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$1.3 billion (Down by -2.8%)
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Bangladesh’s total exported goods represent 5.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($837.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 5.6% for 2018. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Bangladesh’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
unemployment rate was 4.2% in 2019 down from 4.3% during 2018, according to Trading Economics.
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 22, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Foreign Trade, United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 22, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 22, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 22, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Bangladesh. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Category:Companies of Bangladesh. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bangladesh. Accessed on April 22, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 22, 2020