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Key Economic Data 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
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: 018 - (27/06/07)

According to the Financial Express, Bangladesh has its eyes on a 150 million US dollars worth of funds from the World Bank to finance exploration of gas. The Bangladesh Finance Ministry stated that since the current reserve of the natural resource in the country is likely to get depleted by 2011, there seems little choice but to explore avenues for more gas, and as a result this proposal has been sent to the World Bank. In addition to seeking funds for natural resource development, Bangladesh has also conveyed to the World Bank, the importance of helping state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX), in its efforts to conduct seismic survey in different areas to find new gas reserves, drill at Semutang Gas Field in southeastern Chittagong region, and develop gas transmission and distribution systems. While the sanctions for funds from the World Bank on this issue remain in the offing, the organization separately approved a US$100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to support Bangladesh's efforts to deepen and sustain reforms in the education sector. The official name for this education project is: The Third Programmatic Education Sector Development Support Credit; the project is tailored to address governance issues and work on various resources in improving quality and building levels of secondary education. This is a major step in the improving the "quality" of Bangladesh's primary and more importantly, secondary education which has suffered from the lack of adequate resources. This phase of reform by the World Bank comes after two previous reforms, the first of which was initiated in August 29, 2004, and the second on February 7, 2006. 

India and Bangladesh are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) next week to begin the process of removing non tariff barriers, as part of the move towards a renewed endeavour for South Asian economic integration. Both countries will simultaneously resume Secretary level dialogue after two-years with the Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon visiting Dhaka on a three-day trip. In April, Foreign Adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury engaged in Secretary-level talks to facilitate an improvement in Bangladesh and India's relations. An MoU will be signed between Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institutions (BSTI) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). According to the terms of the MoU, BSTI and BIS will standardize quality controls to allow the BSTI to perform tests and certify Bangladeshi goods for export to India. All these steps are geared toward the removal of non-tariff barriers. The MoUs also include provisions to end practices such as the system of testing Bangladeshi export goods by the BIS. Apart from the focus on non-tariff barriers, a number of issues such as joint-border patrolling and border demarcation will also be discussed. Moreover, there is speculation that the two multibillion dollar investment proposals from two Indian business giants, Mittal and Tata, that have been put on hold by the present government, will also be a topic of discussion. 

The Chinese government is keen on forging a stronger relationship with Bangladesh, as part of strengthening relations with its neighbours. In the words of Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, relations between both countries" are moving towards maturity." The Foreign Minister also stated that Bangladesh and China have carried out fruitful cooperation in political, economic, military and cultural fields and have delineated a four point agenda which includes framing a mechanism of mutual visits to key sectors like energy and agriculture to maintain regular dialogue, deepening cooperation in economy and trade, expanding educational and cultural exchanges, and promoting bilateral cooperation on regional and international issues. Economic cooperation is an important basis for fostering the China-Bangladesh friendship as Dhaka is Beijing's third- largest trade partner in South Asia. He observed that bilateral trade and economic cooperation has grown rapidly, with the trade volume having approached US$ 3.2-billion mark in 2006. 

The Bahrain Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nizar Al Baharna has visited Bangladesh to finalize three agreements to boost bilateral trade and economic co-operation. The agreements on "avoidance of double taxation, promotion and protection of investments and a deal on air services" were signed recently. The deals are expected to increase the number of skilled and semi- skilled workers coming to Bahrain from Bangladesh. According to political affairs Councillor, Masudur Rahman, "there are currently 75,000 Bangladeshis working here and 90 per cent can be considered unskilled" and "with the signing of these three deals we are expecting more skilled and semi-skilled workers to come to Bahrain." The trade agreement would mean that more goods produced in Bangladesh, from pharmaceuticals to fresh vegetables, will be available in Bahrain at a better price, the official said. Not only that, a certain pool of Bangladeshi workers will gain suitable employment in skilled sectors of Bahrain's economy. 

The Tata Group's US$3-billion investment plan, which has not received too much of a boost in the past two years, may finally see a change. The Bangladesh government has indicated its willingness to reconsider the proposal and has said it will take a final decision on the issue on July 15th, 2007. S. Nazrul Islam, Chairman, Bangladesh Board of Investment, is believed to have told the Bangladesh press that there would be "no further delays" and that apart from the Tata Group's proposals, the government would also decide on proposals forwarded by the Promod Mittal group and Asian Energy. The Tatas had first indicated interest in investing up to $3 billion in Bangladesh's steel, power and fertilizer sectors in 2005. 

However, initially there appeared to be considerable opposition to the group's plans in the country, because of a false perception that if approved, the proposals would allow the Tatas to use Bangladesh's natural gas reserves to make steel and fertilizers for export, thereby leaving little gas for a country that itself is very heavily energy-dependent. In other words, the fear of their natural resources being exploited by a large company has kept the Bangladeshis cautious in going ahead with the deals. The proposals also came in for flak for their inability to provide adequate employment to the local population and to establish strong backward and forward linkages since most of the steel would be exported to India, for use by industrial units there. The proposals were finally shot down and a decision was deferred till general elections scheduled for 2008-end. As a result of repeated delays, the Tata Group announced the suspension of its operations in Bangladesh early this year. Critics have argued that Bangladesh may be taking a rather hardline approach to investments which has directly impacted inflows from abroad. Net foreign investment in the country fell 16.5% during July-March in 2006-07 fiscal to US$385 million against US$505 million during the corresponding period a year ago. However, the government of Bangladesh has decided to take a more positive approach to the issue of investment by agreeing to take a decision on the issue at the earliest.

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