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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: 021 - (24/09/07)

Bangladesh's trade negotiation committee is meeting in Dhaka this month to set up a free trade bloc. The trade negotiation committee (TNC) will try to move the negotiation process forward to create the free trade bloc under the BIMSTEC umbrella. BIMSTEC is comprised of seven South-East Asian countries include Bangladesh, Burma, officially known as Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. The aim is to strengthen trade and investment among its member countries. The resumption of trade negotiations indicates that the regional leadership has decided to go ahead with the free trade agreement among the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member countries. The plan for a free trade zone was launched last year by the political changeover in Thailand and subsequent political changes in Bangladesh. At the three-day meeting, the negotiators will try to settle differences on issues pertaining to rules of origin, negative lists of products of individual member states, local value addition content of exportable products, customs formalities and arbitration modalities. Commerce Secretary of Bangladesh Feroz Ahmed, will open the first session of the trade negotiating committee. 

Bangladesh is submitting a plan to the International Atomic Energy Agency by October 15 this year to install a 600-1000MW nuclear power plant at a cost of 1.2 billion dollars. A high-profile IAEA team, headed by its Deputy Director General is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka between November and December to evaluate the safety and security issues relating to the plant site. IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei has assured Bangladesh's Energy Minister of providing full technical support to Bangladesh for setting up the nuclear power plant. Even neighboring countries - all themselves nuclear such as India, Pakistan, China and Russia have agreed to offer technical cooperation to Bangladesh. The proposed 600MW nuclear power plant would be set up by 2015, if it is approved by the IAEA. 

Islamic activists have defied emergency rule to protest over the publication of a cartoon deemed offensive to Muslims. Under emergency rule, demonstrations are strictly prohibited. However, this did not stop thousands of protesters who joined the rally in the centre of the Dhaka. Prothom Alo, (meaning The First Light), the newspaper that published the cartoon became the center of attack. The cartoon appeared in Prothom Alo's weekly satirical magazine "Alpin." Its cartoonist, Arisur Rahman, 23, was detained earlier this week and later remanded in custody by a court. The cartoon depicted a small boy adding the name Mohammed to the name of a cat. Demonstrators chanted slogans demanding the execution of newspaper editor Matiur Rahman and burned effigies of him and copies of the Bengali-language daily. More than 9,000 people protested against the cartoon in front of the national mosque and tried to march to the Prothom Alo office, according to one police official. This example goes to prove once again that the scope of freedom of speech and expression is very limited in Bangladesh. Most protests have surrounded the defense of Islam and religious beliefs. 

Bangladesh's military backed government has asked the United Kingdom to help recover assets moved offshore by lawmakers as part of its crackdown on corruption. The crackdown has led to the arrest of more than 150 politicians. The reason Bangladesh is engaging Britain in this issue, is because the government suspects that many Bangladeshi politicians either own property in London or have stolen British money. Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission said that they are seeking the support of Scotland Yard in this matter. Also, if Bangladesh can produce evidence from British authorities that some of the political leaders and businessmen have made investments there, then getting a conviction will be much easier. The Anti-Corruption Commission is moving as per each case and individual to track money laundering activities. Some of the funds taken out of the country may have been invested in London, Singapore or New York, said Chowdhury. The U.K.'s Department for International Development and the World Bank are also helping Bangladesh tackle corruption. The commission plans to recruit 400 more people to increase its numbers to 1264 people. The World Bank, which lent the country $379 million in the fiscal year to June 2007, is going to help improve the governance of public institutions, to fight corruption, Xian Zhu the World Bank country director for Bangladesh, said in an e-mailed statement. 

Citi has become the first foreign lender to obtain a merchant banking license in Bangladesh. 
The license allows Citi to act as an advisor, and chief manager in the country's local capital markets. The licence was granted to Citigroup Global Markets Bangladesh Private Limited, a locally incorporated entity. Faruq Ahmad Siddiqi, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Bangladesh, handed over the licence to Mamun Rashid, Citi's Country Officer for Bangladesh at the offices of the SEC. Citi is committed to providing world class M&A advisory, debt and equity services to support Bangladesh and its companies' future growth, said Mamun Rashid, Citi Country Officer in Bangladesh. While Citi has operated in Bangladesh since 1987 offering Corporate Banking services, under this new license, Citi will be allowed for the first time to undertake traditional merchant banking and investment banking services. 

Scottish Company Cairn Energy will be undertaking oil and gas exploration in the offshore Block 16 starting October 7th of this year. They have submitted a letter of interest to the Energy ministry requesting the support of Bangladesh's Navy and Coast Guards as a means of providing the necessary security and safety measures. Cairn Energy will be undertaking exploration work in Meghnama, situated in the Bay of Bengal starting from next month. Bangladesh's Energy Secretary, ANM Nasiruddin, informed Energy Bangla that the Ministry has requested the Government to provide all necessary assistance to ensure smooth drilling operations in Block 16. For security, they have also contacted the Navy and the Coast guard requesting them to provide full cooperation. The entire drilling operation will take about 200 days. Fishing and other activities in the surrounding area will be restricted. 

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