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Bangladesh trades with 210 countries: Commerce state minister

Inflation was highest in FY23, he said

Bangladesh trades with 210 countries: Commerce state minister

Bangladesh currently engages in commercial transactions with 210 countries worldwide, State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu said today (23 June).

He also mentioned that Bangladesh has a trade deficit with 82 of these countries.

"Presently, Bangladesh conducts commercial transactions with 210 countries, having a trade deficit with 82 of them. According to fiscal year 2022-23 data, Bangladesh has a total trade deficit of $15,239.55 million," he said.

The minister revealed this information in response to a written question from Dr Samil Uddin Ahmed Shimul, MP, during a session of the parliament.

The session was presided over by Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.

The state minister also said that the current government maintains trade relations with almost all countries in the world, following the policy of "friendship to all, malice towards none."

In response to a question from MP AFM Bahauddin, the minister mentioned that the government has taken various measures to sustain competition in the global market under a free-market economy and to balance foreign trade.

"To sustain competition in the global market under a free-market economy, balance foreign trade and transactions, and address post-graduation challenges from a least developed country, the government has initiated efforts to sign regional trade agreements with various countries," the state minister said.

In response to a question from MP Md Abul Kalam, State Minister Titu said that among Saarc countries, Bangladesh has a trade deficit with Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Pakistan, excluding Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

He stated that there is a deficit of $1.49 million with Afghanistan, $14.49 million with Bhutan, $7,160.81 million with India, and $614.73 million with Pakistan.

On the other hand, there is a surplus of $41.54 million with Nepal, $9.07 million with Sri Lanka, and $0.14 million with the Maldives, according to the state minister.

'Inflation was highest in FY23'

The state minister has said the last FY23 saw the highest inflation in the last 12 years. Inflation in this financial year was 9.02%.

According to the information placed by the state minister, the inflation rate was 8.69% in FY12; 6.78% in FY13; 7.35% in FY14; 6.41% in FY15; 5.92% in FY16; 5.44% in FY17; 5.78% in FY18; 5.48% in FY19; 5.65% in FY20; 5.56% in FY21 and 6.15% in FY22.

'27.88 lakh are women in RMG industry'

The state minister has revealed that Bangladesh's ready-made garment (RMG) industry employs a total of 50,17,652 workers, with 27,88,616 women comprising 55.57% of the workforce.

"According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), there are 33,17,397 workers in RMG factories, of whom 17,34,459 or 52.28% are women.

"The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) reports that the knit sector employs 17,00,255 workers, with 10,54,157 women making up 62% of this workforce," he added.

Quoting Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) data, the minister said, "According to the 2022 labour force survey, the total manpower in the RMG sector is 43,16,000. Of which 16,19,000 or 37.51% are women.

In response to a question, the minister said, "In the fiscal year 2022-23, $46.9 billion worth of garments were exported abroad. The growth rate in this case was 10.27%.

"And in the July-May period of the fiscal year 2023-24, the export earnings from the garment sector are $43.85 billion and the growth is 2.86%."

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