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BANGLADESH


  
  



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

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
144,000

Population
144,319,628

Capital
Dhaka

Currency
taka (BDT)

President
Iajuddin Ahmed


Update No: 007 - (31/07/06)

POLITICS
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has been rather optimistic about the participation of her countrymen in programs for development, peace and prosperity. Addressing a huge public meeting at Chaubari High School field in Kamarkhand Upazila, Begum Zia remarked that people do not like those who are pursuing the politics of anarchy, chaos, indiscipline, terrorism and corpses (laash). The speech comes at a time, when, Zia is trying to garner maximum votes for her party. Sensing that the BNP-led alliance will once again come to power, with the people's mandate, the Opposition is trying to create a crisis in the country by issuing threats of boycotting and disrupting the next polls. But Khaleda Zia has expressed her confidence in the people and stated that the electorates are united for the BNP-led alliance and would collectively fight the terrorists and anti-social elements. The Prime Minister said three elections had been held in the past under the supervision of a caretaker government. According to Zia, people are now beginning to respond and react positively to the BNP initiated reforms. Construction of roads and bridges, the setting up of new mills and factories, supply of electricity and creation of employment are the signs of development. 

FOREIGN RELATIONS: THE SAARC SUMMIT
The two-day meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers is all set to begin in Dhaka on August 1st, 2006 with a number of items on the agenda; most significant of which is providing observer status to China and Japan and approval of US$1.3 million budget for the SAARC Secretariat for 2007. Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Rangin Dadfar Spanta and Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Saikal will join the meeting as special invitees from Afghanistan. Recently, the European Union (EU) expressed its interest to also become an observer in the group. Bangladesh has been extremely positive to this initiative from the EU. Australia and Russia are among other countries that are showing similar interest in joining this group. Bhutanese Foreign Minister Khandu Wangchuk, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, Maldives Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and host and SAARC chair Bangladesh's Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan will lead their respective countries in the meeting. According to official sources, the Council will conduct a comprehensive review of eight regional centres under the SAARC and finalize the decision for launching the SAARC Centre for Disaster Management in New Delhi. They also plan to discuss the setting up of a South Asian University and inaugurating a SAARC Media Year. Among other issues, Dhaka will also raise the issue of the killing of innocent Bangladeshis by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. The two Foreign Ministers from both India and Bangladesh plan to meet during the summit to discuss this issue. "We will discuss the matter with the Indian side when we will meet on the sideline," the foreign minister told the newsmen, when asked about the matter. 

FDI Rising
A 10-member UAE investment and business delegation headed by Khalifa Mohammad Al Muhairi, Member, Board of Directors of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will is visiting Bangladesh from July 30-31. The delegation will comprise members of leading enterprises from the UAE with interest in the field of real estate, property development, tourism, banking and insurance, financial service, oil and gas service, power, infrastructure and telecommunications, among others. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bangladesh has increased by 84 per cent, to $845.3 million in 2005, from $460 million in 2004. The Telecommunication sector has been able to attract maximum investment followed by manufacturing sector. Bangladesh has an abundant supply of natural gas and low cost labour force, even by regional standards, which is a lucrative aspect for investment here. Despite enormous increase in the price of petroleum products the country has been able to register nearly seven per cent economic growth rate during the fiscal year 2005-2006. Of late more and more multinational companies are investing in Bangladesh as most of the Bangladeshi products enjoy complete duty and quota free access to European Union, Japan, USA, Australia and most of the developed countries. A number of UAE entrepreneurs have already invested in Bangladesh, prominent amongst them being Dhabi Group in telecommunication and banking, Belhasa group in infrastructure and property development, RAK Group in ceramics. The UAE delegation will hold meetings with the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Board of Investment (BOI). 

BANGLADESH AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Dr Kim Howells, Member of Parliament and UK State Minister for Foreign Affairs for South Asia and the Middle East has applauded Bangladesh's role in combating terrorism both within its soil and overseas. Howells has admiration for the present government's action in eliminating extremist terrorist groups such as JMB and the arrest and trial of the kingpin JMB activists such as Bangla Bhai, Siddiqur Rahman and others. Dr Howells also commended the government for achieving sustained levels of economic stability and improved socio- economic indicators for the people of Bangladesh. Referring to the upcoming general elections, the minister underlined that as Bangladesh's development partner the UK is attaching high priority to holding free and fair elections in Bangladesh and strengthening the country's democratic institutions. 

BANGLADESH AND IRAN
The governments of Bangladesh and Iran are holding a Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting in Tehran between July 24 and July 25 after a gap of about eight years. Trade and economic cooperation are expected to dominate the talks where Dhaka would seek duty-free access of its export items in Iranian markets. The JEC meeting is taking place after eight years since the last meeting that was held in Dhaka in March, 1998. This is an important step since both countries have had very little interaction together. Bangladesh exports jute yarn and twine, jute products, raw jute, padding, pharmaceuticals and garments to Iran. The two-way trade stands in favour of Bangladesh. In 2004-05 fiscal, the export figure was US$48.78 million while it was US$34.74 million in the previous year (2003-04). The import from Iran was US$23.87 million in 2004-05 fiscal while it was US$19.45 in fiscal year 2003-04. Last year, Iranian Commerce Minister Shariatmadari visited Dhaka and signed a trade deal. He also offered jobs for Bangladeshi doctors, engineers and professionals. Dhaka and Tehran already discussed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries at relevant experts' level and the documents were also exchanged between the two governments. 

ECONOMY
There has been speculation amongst economists that spiralling oil prices will have varied effects on the economy with the rise in government's overall import bill and subsidy on fuel oil in the internal market. The Bangladesh economy has been facing challenges, mainly due to continued rise in fuel oil prices. "Bangladesh is a net fuel importing country and the government is also supplying fuel oil at subsidized rates. So, a further rise in oil prices will severely affect the economy," said President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Mir Nasir Hossain. He said the government will have to spend more for the import of fuel oil that will force the government to borrow more from the country's banking system. The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President MA Momen expressed concern over the fuel price hike in the international market. 
If the government raises fuel price in line with international prices, the country's booming small and medium enterprises (SME) will suffer largely. Hence, the government should encourage people to use CNG ( a form of natural gas) for their vehicles to reduce the dependence on fuel oil. 
Bangladesh adopted the National Policy Guidelines on Biotechnology with the overarching goal of pushing for multidimensional biotechnological research for augmenting human welfare in all respects -- food security, health and a sound environment in particular, report agencies. The broad objectives of the policy are aimed at increasing production and preservation capacities of various crops, fishes, and medicinal items as well as restoring various extinct useful species and ensuring safety of public health and the environment. 
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Abdul Moyeen Khan presented the national policy guidelines on ICT, Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abduallah Al Noman presented national policy guidelines on Fisheries and Livestock, Health Minister Khandokar Mosharraf Hossain put forward national policy guidelines on Medical Technology while Environment and Forest Minister Tariqul Islam presented bio-safety guidelines for Bangladesh. Addressing the meeting Prime Minister Khaleda Zia asked for formulating a 20-year national roadmap on biotechnology "on priority basis" to utilize the potentialities and scope for development, research and application of biotechnology to alleviate poverty, increase food security and improve health, nutrition and livelihood of the people of Bangladesh.

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