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BANGLADESH


  
  



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Key Economic Data 
 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
GDP
Millions of US $ 56,844 51,900 45,500 54
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 440 400 390 175
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bangladesh

Update No: 003 - (27/03/06)

POLITICS
Fears of fresh attacks by Islamic terrorists have caused tremendous concern for the nation; a concern that the Bangladeshi Government is trying to adequately address. Following the interrogation of a top terrorist leader after 16 days of his arrest from northern Bangladesh, the government is not complacent even after the capture of such terrorists. "We are not ruling out the possibility of further attacks by the Islamic militants despite their top leaders were arrested early this month," said state minister for home affairs, Lutfozzaman Babar. His Ministry has asked the security forces to remain alert on any further attacks by militants. He said that security had been beefed up in the key installations before the Independence Day celebration on March 26th and the Bengali new year on April 14th and that operations would continue until the militants are rooted out completely. 

FOREIGN POLICY
President Iajuddin Ahmed has stressed the need for more exchanges between the scientists of Bangladesh and Pakistan in mitigating water salinity and arsenic contamination that hinder agriculture output. The President emphasized the point while talking to visiting Pakistan Agriculture and Livestock Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan at Bangabhaban. He also stressed the need to utilize a scientific and planned method in paddy cultivation to keep the country self sufficient in agricultural productivity and output. Referring to the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on agriculture, research and cooperation between the two countries, Bosan hoped that cooperation as well as production in agriculture sector between the two countries would increase due to the signing of MoU. He also mentioned that Pakistan has already sent a delegation to Bangladesh to extend its cooperation for the country's agriculture expansion.
Among others, Agriculture Minister MK Anwar, the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh Auz M Khan were present. The entourage of the Pakistan Minister and high officials of Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh also attended the meeting. Bangladesh and Pakistan will also help each other with their expertise to develop respective agriculture and livestock sectors. This was decided at a meeting at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Centre (BARC), where Bangladesh Agriculture Minister MK Anwar and Pakistan Agriculture and Livestock Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan were present. Agriculture contributes 50 per cent of Bangladesh's total GDP, 60 per cent of employment and 5 per cent of its export earnings. But Bangladesh is facing problems in this sector due to low irrigation system, excessive withdrawal of the underground water, rapid increase of salinity across the coastal belt area and unplanned use of cultivable land.
Begum Khaleda Zia visited India on a three-day visit on the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. As a consequence of the meeting between the two leaders, Bangladesh and India have agreed to hold more frequent bilateral meetings of the existing joint institutional bodies like the Joint Economic Commission and the Joint Boundary Working Groups to ensure that they move forward with the issues concerning both countries. "It was agreed that meetings of the bilateral institutional mechanisms such as the Joint Economic Commission, the Joint Boundary Working Groups, the Joint Rivers Commission and the Home Secretary-level talks would be held more frequently to ensure movement in a positive direction and their outcome monitored by the political leadership on a continuous basis." The joint statement said that both Khaleda Zia and Dr. Manmohan Singh agreed on the need to maintain high-level political dialogue between the two countries. It was recalled that the Indian Prime Minister had met the Bangladesh Prime Minister in Dhaka in November last year during the 13th SAARC Summit. The current visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister has provided both countries the opportunity to continue and sustain their high-level political dialogue. The visit is also testimony to the priority attached by both countries to the promotion of their bilateral relations in all aspects. During the visit, the Bangladesh Prime Minister held comprehensive discussions with the Indian Premier on the entire gamut of bilateral relations. During her stay in Indian capital, the Bangladesh Prime Minister called on Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Vice-President Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the Chairperson of United Progressive Alliance, Smt Sonia Gandhi. The two main agreements signed during her visit were: the Revised Trade Agreement and the Agreement for Mutual Cooperation for Preventing Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Related Matters. While the revised trade agreement is expected to provide a framework for expansion of bilateral trade, the other agreement signals the joint determination of the two Governments to combat drug trafficking. The Press release also said that both leaders agreed on the need to maintain high-level political dialogue between the two countries. The two leaders also expressed their satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in November 2005. They agreed that the positive outcome of the Summit would enable SAARC member countries to achieve specific economic and social objectives. Both leaders emphasized that implementation of SAFTA must be pursued with vigour to advance the SAARC economic agenda. The Joint Statement documented that "The Bangladesh Prime Minister conveyed her thanks for the warm hospitality during her visit to India. She extended an invitation to the Indian Prime Minister to visit Bangladesh. The invitation was accepted by the Indian Prime Minister with pleasure, dates would be worked out through diplomatic channels."

ECONOMY
The Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has entered into a major partnership with India with a view to generate more investment with India. Expressing concern over the growing trade gap between Bangladesh and India, the Prime Minister sought the dismantling of the non-tariff barriers in India to facilitate Bangladeshi exports into the country. According to her, India should try to create an improved land port on the Indian side of the Indo-Bangladesh border for boosting trade between the two countries. Khaleda Zia also said that her government is eager to support strategic business partnership between the traders and investors of the two countries in key areas such as information and communication technology. On the Indian side, the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Kamal Nath, said that a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries would address the issues of trade deficit to a significant extent. Citing the example of success of Indo-Sri Lankan FTA, the Minister said, "Sri Lankan exports to India in 2001 was barely US$45 million. By 2004, its exports to India had grown to US$200 million." He said trade between the two countries had almost doubled in the last five years, growing to US$1.6 billion in 2004-2005 from less than US$900 million in 2000. 
South Asia Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF) a multi-donor facility managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI), hosted a seminar on the 'Role of Connectivity and Visas in Facilitating Trade between Bangladesh and Northeast India' on March 19th, 2006, at Guwahati. The seminar reviewed the status of trade under the current protocol and made recommendations to improve the connectivity through inland water, land and air routes along with the changes in procedures for visa issuance for Indian and Bangladeshi traders. A multi-donor facility managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, SEDF was established in 2002 in Dhaka to focus on the need of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, North-east India and Sri Lanka. The primary goal of SEDF was to reduce poverty through development of SMEs. SEDF was one of the 11 regional SME facilities of IFC. It designed and undertook interventions to identify and help overcome key obstacles faced by SMEs in business development and operations with focus on core areas like access to finance, sector development and business enabling environment (BEE). SEDF aimed to promote an environment that aided growth of SMEs with focus on trade facilitation, simplification of business regulatory procedures and capacity building of business membership organizations as also gender, environmental and social compliance. IFC felt these efforts would reduce poverty and improve lives. From its founding in 1956 to 2005, IFC had committed more than US$49 billion of own funds and arranged US$24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY2005 was US$19.3 billion for its own account and US$5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

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