Bangladesh can double regional trade: WB

Staff Correspondent

20 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh has the potential to more than double its trade with South Asian countries, which in turn can accelerate Bangladesh’s growth and create more jobs for men and women, says a new World Bank report.

Out of $84.3 billion global trade, Bangladesh has only $7.6 billion actual trade with its neighbours in South Asia against $18.9 billion potential trade, which means it is $11.3 billion below its regional trade potential and is losing 13 per cent in total global trade, the WB said.

The report: ‘A Glass Half Full: the Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’ unveiled globally from Dhaka on Wednesday showed that trade within South Asia can grow three times, from $23 billion to $67 billion if man-made trade barriers are reduced.

“Bangladesh can become an economic powerhouse by deepening regional and global integration in trade, connectivity, energy and investment,” said WB Country Director Qimiao Fan, adding that for increased regional trade, the country needs to focus on improving its trade policy regime, which currently has a “strong anti-export bias.”

Intraregional trade in South Asia remains one of the lowest in the world and accounts for about five per cent of the region’s total trade, compared with 50 per cent in East Asia and the Pacific. Bangladesh’s trade with South Asia is only nine per cent of its global trade.

The report identifies four critical barriers to regional trade:  tariffs and para tariffs, real and perceived non¬-tariff barriers, connectivity costs, and a broader trust deficit.

“Trust between countries is in short supply in South Asia. Border haats between Bangladesh and India, aimed at recapturing the once thriving economic and cultural relationships are now changing cross-border relations,” said Sanjay Kathuria, WB’s lead economist and lead author of the report.