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Bangladesh Economy 1999

    Economy—overview: Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains one of the world's poorest, most densely populated, and least developed nations. The economy is largely agricultural, with the cultivation of rice the single most important activity in the economy. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, the inefficiency of state-owned enterprises, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), inadequate power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA Wajed's Awami League government has made some headway improving the climate for foreign investors and liberalizing the capital markets; for example, it has negotiated with foreign firms for oil and gas exploration, better countrywide distribution of cooking gas, and the construction of natural gas pipelines and power plants. Progress on other economic reforms has been halting because of opposition from the bureaucracy, public sector unions, and other vested interest groups. Severe floods, lasting from July to October 1998, endangered the livelihoods of more than 20 million people. Foodgrain production fell by 4 million tons, forcing Dhaka to triple its normal foodgrain imports and placing severe pressure on Bangladesh's balance of payments. The floods increased the country's reliance on large-scale international aid. So far the East Asian financial crisis has not had major impact on the economy.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$175.5 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 4% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,380 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 30%
    industry: 17%
    services: 53% (1997)

    Population below poverty line: 35.6% (1995-96 est.)

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 4.1%
    highest 10%: 23.7% (1992)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7% (1998)

    Labor force: 56 million
    note: extensive export of labor to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Oman (1996)

    Labor force—by occupation: agriculture 65%, services 25%, industry and mining 10% (1996)

    Unemployment rate: 35.2% (1996)

    revenues: $3.8 billion
    expenditures: $5.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997)

    Industries: jute manufacturing, cotton textiles, food processing, steel, fertilizer

    Industrial production growth rate: 3.6% (1997)

    Electricity—production: 11.5 billion kWh (1997)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 97.35%
    hydro: 2.65%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 11.3 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: rice, jute, tea, wheat, sugarcane, potatoes; beef, milk, poultry

    Exports: $4.4 billion (1997)

    Exports—commodities: garments, jute and jute goods, leather, frozen fish and seafood

    Exports—partners: Western Europe 42%, US 30%, Hong Kong 4%, Japan 3% (FY95/96 est.)

    Imports: $7.1 billion (1997)

    Imports—commodities: capital goods, textiles, food, petroleum products

    Imports—partners: India 21%, China 10%, Western Europe 8%, Hong Kong 7%, Singapore 6% (FY95/96 est.)

    Debt—external: $16.7 billion (1997)

    Economic aid—recipient: $1.475 billion (FY96/97)

    Currency: 1 taka (Tk) = 100 poisha

    Exchange rates: taka (Tk) per US$1—48.500 (January 1999), 46.906 (1998), 43.892 (1997), 41.794 (1996), 40.278 (1995), 40.212 (1994)

    Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)