Bangladesh imported an estimated US$50.4 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2019, up by 4.9% since 2015 but down by -11.8% 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 deteriorated by -1.2% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker local currency of Bangladesh makes its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Bangladeshi taka.
Given Bangladesh’s population of 166.6 million people, its total $50.4 billion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $300 in yearly product demand from every person in the South Asian country.
Bangladesh’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bangladesh’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Bangladesh.
- Machinery including computers: US$5.8 billion (11.5% of total imports)
- Cotton: $5.4 billion (10.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.4 billion (8.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.2 billion (6.4%)
- Iron, steel: $2.9 billion (5.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.2 billion (4.4%)
- Vehicles: $1.7 billion (3.5%)
- Manmade staple fibers: $1.6 billion (3.2%)
- Manmade filaments: $1.42 billion (2.8%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: $1.35 billion (2.7%)
Bangladesh’s top 10 imports represent about three-fifths (59.7%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Iron and steel posted the fastest growth in cost among Bangladesh’s top 10 import categories, up by 4.8% from 2018 to 2019. The other top product category to appreciate year over year was manmade filaments, due to its 1.8% increase.
Leading the decreases among the top 10 Bangladeshi imports was cotton via its -21.3% drop year over year, ahead of the 21% decline for imported electrical machinery and equipment.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2019, Bangladeshi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$319.5 million (down -0.1% from 2018)
- Yarn wash/clean/iron machines: $268.1 million (down -17.5%)
- Sewing machines, related furniture: $234.6 million (down -17.1%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $233.1 million (up 23.8%)
- Temperature-change machines: $218.1 million (up 62.5%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $211.9 million (down -60.9%)
- Knitting/stitching machines: $206.4 million (down -20.7%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $204.7 million (down -5.6%)
- Vapour-based boilers: $197.7 million (down -8.9%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $178.2 million (up 6.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Bangladeshi purchases of temperature-change machines (up 62.5%), liquid pumps and elevators (up 23.8%) then centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 6.5%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Bangladeshi businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Bangladeshi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of cotton and related products.
- Cotton (uncarded, uncombed): US$1.7 billion (down -9.8% from 2018)
- Woven fabrics (85%+ cotton): $922.5 million (down -33.6%)
- Woven cotton fabrics: $886.4 million (down -20.5%)
- Woven fabrics (mixed): $761.6 million (down -10.5%)
- Yarn (85%+ cotton): $757.2 million (down -33.8%)
- Woven fabrics (under 85% cotton): $233 million (down -15.1%)
- Yarn (under 85% cotton): $92.9 million (down -26.2%)
- Other woven fabrics: $21.2 million (down -56.7%)
- Cotton (carded, combed): $3.4 million (down -73.1%)
- Cotton sewing thread: $994,000 (down -34.6%)
Among these import subcategories, Bangladeshi purchases of uncarded and uncombed cotton (down -9.8%), woven mixed fabrics (down -10.5%) then woven fabrics consisting of under 85% cotton (down -15.1%) declined at the slowest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported cotton among Bangladeshi businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Bangladeshi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$3.6 billion (down -12% from 2018)
- Electrical energy: $452.4 million (up 138.3%)
- Petroleum gases: $177.8 million (down -59.8%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $71.8 million (down -70.9%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $12.3 million (down -84.3%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $7.4 million (down -24.6%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $5.3 million (down -3.4%)
- Lignite: $4.8 million (down -29.2%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $2.6 million (up 0.9%)
- Distilled tar: $2.2 million (down -23.1%)
Among these import subcategories, Bangladeshi purchases of electrical energy (up 138.3%) and high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 0.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Bangladeshi businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Bangladeshi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic equipment including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$908 million (down -6.9% from 2018)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $268.5 million (down -49.3%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $259.4 million (down -32.3%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $204.4 million (down -20.1%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $152.4 million (down -26.6%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $140.9 million (down -19.4%)
- Electric motors, generators: $130.3 million (up 14.5%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $114.5 million (down -6.5%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $104.9 million (down -22.2%)
- Electric storage batteries: $104.2 million (down -19.1%)
Among these import subcategories, only Bangladeshi purchases of electric motors and generators (up 14.5%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Bangladeshi businesses and consumers.
See also Bangladesh’s Top 10 Exports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on South Asia: Bangladesh. 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