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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: 028 - (01/06/08)

The Bangladesh government has approved the establishment of a truth commission that will help offer plea bargains to suspects arrested under its massive anti-corruption drive. The plea bargain will allow suspects to avoid jail term if they return their “ill-gotten” wealth to the state. The newly established organization is called The Truth and Accountability Commission (TAC). The Bangladesh cabinet approved this proposal at a meeting chaired by chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who heads the military-backed interim government. Persons accepting the Commission’s offer will be barred from contesting national or local elections for five years and from holding any public office and executive positions in any collective bargaining agents, associations or banks or financial institutions. The spokesman said the government will appoint the commission as soon as President Iajuddin Ahmed promulgates an ordinance allowing the formation of the body. The commission would continue for five months but the proceedings it would draw during its tenure would continue until disposal of the cases, officials said. Over 170 prominent businessmen and political leaders, including two former Chief Ministers Shiekh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were arrested by the government formed after the President imposed emergency in January last year and scrapped general elections following prolonged political turmoil. The chief adviser, however, had recently said the two detained former premiers were ineligible for the relief as they were already facing trial in courts on corruption charges. While it may be too early to predict the future of this newly established Truth Commission, the commission’s future success will probably depend on how well Bangladesh’s justice system can identify the culprits from the innocent. A well structured set of laws and punitive measure will need to be in place to prevent corrupt politicians from using the plea bargain as a way out of their criminal record. 

The United Nations refugee chief is currently in Bangladesh on Monday for a two-day visit to highlight the need to find a lasting solution for the 27,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The Rohingya refugees have been languishing in two refugee camps -Kutupalong and Nayapara - in the country’s southeastern Cox’s Bazar district for more than 16 years. Rohingyas refugees from Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, fled to Bangladesh in the early 1990s and see little prospect of going home any time soon. This is U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres’ first visit to Bangladesh. During the visit, he plans to discuss the plight of the Rohingya refugees with a view to bringing some relief to this group of people. The Rohinya refugee problem is part of the world’s most protracted refugee situations. The U.N. refugee chief also plans to spend a day in Kutupalong Refugee Camp near Cox’s Bazar. Kutupalong is home to almost 10,800 refugees and during his visit, Guterres will meet with refugee women, teenagers and youth, and visit medical and feeding centers as well as inspect new housing units that are being built for the refugees. It will be interesting to see whether Myanmar’s current situation will be in taken into account in addressing the inflow of refugees in future. 

Thailand intends to double its bilateral trade with Bangladesh to at least US$1 billion within five years. Deputy Commerce Minister, Viroon Tejapaibul, outlined this goal after meeting wit Bangladesh’s trade representatives and various authorities. The two governments also plan to negotiate on a free trade agreement to promote joint investment. Thailand has a large trade surplus with Bangladesh. Out of two-way trade worth US$525.38 million last year, Thailand’s shipments accounted for $511.16 million. Major export products included cement, fabric, yarn, plastic pellets, machinery, and chemicals. Thailand’s key imports from Bangladesh were fertiliser, pesticides, raw hides and leather, and scientific equipment. According to Mr Viroon, the relatively high trade deficit has led Bangladeshi authorities to urge the Thai government to purchase more products such as pharmaceuticals, seafood, spices and cosmetics. Bangladesh has also called for more investment from Thailand, specifically in construction, automobiles, shrimp farming, black goat farming, sugar, leather finishing, and power plants. Bangladesh is endowed with petroleum, natural gas and oil, and has relatively cheap labor. It also enjoys Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) tariff privileges as a least developed country (LCD) from developed economies such as the European Union, the United States, Canada and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Bangladeshi tourists spent about $2.6 billion in Thailand last year. About 13 Thai private companies already have a business presence in Bangladesh. They include CP Animal Feed and Thai Classical Leathers.    

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