That dollar amount reflects a 30.1% increase from $40.3 billion in 2017 and a 24.4% uptick from $42.2 billion during 2020.
By value, Bangladesh’s biggest exports are highly concentrated. Clothing or accessories whether or not knitted or crocheted, generated well over four-fifths of total exports from the densely populated Asian nation.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Bangladeshi taka depreciated by -5.8% against the US dollar since 2017 and reduced by -0.3% from 2020 to 2021. 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 166.3 million people, its total $52.5 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $320 for every resident in the South Asian country. That dollar metric eclipses the average $250 per capita one year earlier in 2020.
Bangladesh’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bangladeshi global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bangladesh.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$25 billion (47.7% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $19.3 billion (36.8%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $1.5 billion (2.8%)
- Footwear: $1.3 billion (2.4%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $798.4 million (1.5%)
- Fish: $481.1 million (0.9%)
- Headgear: $467.7 million (0.9%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $405.8 million (0.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $237 million (0.5%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $204.8 million (0.4%)
Bangladesh’s top 10 exports accounted for 94.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 64.6% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales from Bangladesh was headgear via a 60.1% gain.
Bangladesh’s shipments of feathers, artificial flowers and hair posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 52.5%.
The lone decliner among Bangladesh’s top 10 export categories was paper yarn and woven fabric thanks to its -2.9% year-over-year slowdown.
In 2021, Bangladesh’s most valuable exported products were knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests (14%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits including trousers (12.9%), knitted or crocheted jerseys or pullovers (12.3%), unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (10.5%), knitted or crocheted women’s clothing (6.9%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s shirts (3.3%), knitted or crocheted women’s underwear and pajamas (2.9%), knitted or crocheted infant clothing (2.3%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s coats and jackets (also 2.3%), and knitted or crocheted men’s suits including trousers (2.2%).
Products Generating Bangladesh’s Greatest Trade Surpluses
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$25 billion (Up by 32.2% since 2020)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $19.1 billion (Up by 15%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $1.4 billion (Up by 31.1%)
- Footwear: $959.5 million (Up by 20.7%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $560.4 million (Down by -11.5%)
- Headgear: $440.5 million (Up by 62.2%)
- Fish: $421 million (Down by -1.3%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $295.3 million (Up by 8.8%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $157.7 million (Up by 46.3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $118 million (Up by 10.1%)
Bangladesh has highly positive net exports in the international trade of apparel, both clothing and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bangladesh’s strong competitive advantages under apparel-related product categories.
Products Causing Bangladesh’s Worst Trade Deficits
Overall Bangladesh incurred an estimated -$17.3 billion trade deficit during 2021, increasing by 118.7% from -$7.9 billion for 2020.
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.
- Cotton: -US$8.3 billion (Up by 57.2% since 2020)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$6.8 billion (Up by 49%)
- Machinery including computers: -$6.5 billion (Up by 35.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$4.4 billion (Up by 29.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$3.7 billion (Up by 56.1%)
- Cereals: -$3.4 billion (Up by 95.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$3 billion (Up by 40.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$2.2 billion (Up by 71.4%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$2.1 billion (Up by 54%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$1.9 billion (Up by 39.8%)
Bangladesh has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for cotton, an essential ingredient for clothing thus taking advantage of Bangladesh’s relatively low worker costs.
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 5.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($981.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 4.3% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Bangladesh’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another critical economic indicator is a country’s unemployment rate. In 2021, the average unemployment rate for Bangladesh was 5.2%. That percentage represents a decrease from an average 5.3% one year earlier in 2020, 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, Top Exported Hats by Country, Top Exported Baby Clothing Sales, and Cotton Imports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on South Asia: Bangladesh. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Foreign Trade, United States Census Bureau. Accessed on June 3, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average)
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 3, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Bangladesh. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Category:Companies of Bangladesh. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bangladesh. Accessed on June 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 3, 2022