Bangladesh, an emerging economy in South Asia, is steadily taking a firm position in global trade and the world economy. Its geo-strategic location, at the crossroads of South Asia and Southeast Asia, has made Bangladesh politically significant and strategically important. The country lies at the heart of the Bay of Bengal which ensures its critical place in regional and global trade operations and connectivity. Bangladesh is also within the proximity of the Indo-Pacific region’s significant trade channels and routes. Such proximity only strengthens Bangladesh’s regional importance – offering profound leverage in economic diplomacy, and shaping regional dynamics and foreign policy considerations.
Bangladesh has been maintaining the maxim of ‘friendship to all, malice towards none’ pitched by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His ideal in foreign policy propelled the country to maintain warm and friendly diplomatic ties throughout the world. His multilateral and far-sighted philosophy focused on equality, inclusivity, and mutual respect which have become inevitable for shared and integrated globalization in recent years. This philosophy of foreign policy is necessary in the volatile global context to bring peace, harmony, and economic prosperity. His daughter, our Hon’ble Prime Minister, has continued this legacy and deepened existing cooperation with other countries, taking our bilateral relationships to a monumental height.
With a steady foreign policy, coupled with growing economic competitiveness and consistent macroeconomic performance, Bangladesh is considered a role model for many developing economies. Bangladesh’s economy recorded a 6% plus average growth over the past decade until the pandemic and regained a higher growth spree with 6.03% growth in FY2023. For this reason, Bangladesh is known to be one of the top resilient economies globally and is set to graduate into a developing economy in 2026 – followed by a knowledge-based developed nation by 2041.
Having witnessed the recent economic surge and unprecedented emergence of Bangladesh, International Policy Thinktanks and leading MNCs – Goldman Sachs, McKinsey made positive projections about Bangladesh. Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has projected that Bangladesh will be one of the top 20 largest economies by 2040. HSBC has projected that Bangladesh will be the 26th largest economy by 2030 while PWC has projected that Bangladesh will be the 28th largest economy by 2030. The IMF once projected that Bangladesh’s economy will reach $516.24 billion in fiscal 2024-25, outperforming advanced economies such as Denmark, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Due to our economic achievements and third-party projections, the world leaders perhaps realized that the presence of Bangladesh can be beneficial in this multilateral G20 summit. In this respect, India, as the host country of this summit, deserves huge appreciation. Alongside Bangladesh, eight non-G20 countries including Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain, and the UAE had been invited to this summit.
The participation of Bangladesh as a guest country in the G20 summit is a positive step, unfolding new aspirations and potentials with G20 nations. It is worth mentioning that the G20 nations represent about 85% of the global GDP and 75% of our world trade. Therefore, the joining of our Hon’ble Prime Minister at this prestigious summit of the major G20 economic bloc is certainly promising, taking Bangladesh to a new height towards building a strong economic future.
Prime Minister of India H.E. Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina joined in a forward-looking and win-win discussion on the bilateral agenda and ended up with signing 3 MoUs on agricultural research, digital payment mechanism, and cultural exchange to bolster the friendship between Bangladesh and India and deepen their diplomatic ties ushering new opportunities in the days to come. Also, experts are of the opinion that Bangladesh’s presence at the G20 Summit will have a significant positive impact on its diplomatic ties with India.
During the G20 summit, Bangladesh demonstrated its leadership on both regional and global fronts by actively advocating for crucial issues such as counterterrorism, poverty reduction, digital innovation, and regional collaboration. Bangladesh garnered recognition for its commendable progress towards numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its compassionate efforts in providing refuge and assistance to Rohingya refugees. Furthermore, the country has undertaken initiatives to boost tourism and highlight its attractions.
At the G20 summit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and leaders from seven other countries in the launch of the Global Biofuels Alliance. The core aim of this alliance is to accelerate collaborative endeavors among international partners in achieving their net zero emissions objectives by promoting and facilitating the trade of biofuels. Additionally, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina actively participated in dialogues with several prominent leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The 2-day long G20 summit has ended with consensus on many avenues through joint declarations. Of the given declaration on many issues, we have marked that the G20 has recognized strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth and is committed to work with the agenda of the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13). Some other important decisions include challenges of SMEs in developing countries with respect to access to information, finance, digitalization, and the importance of WTO’s ‘Aid for Trade’ initiative which may ease developing countries and LDCs to effectively participate in global trade. These decisions regarding MSMEs and trade supports will have some positive multiplier effects on reshaping trade and industries in Bangladesh and relevant economies. The summit declaration also emphasised on the macroeconomic impacts of food and energy insecurity which may have some positive implications in sustaining our food and energy security.
Joining the G20 summit has given a new dynamic to Bangladesh for building a nexus with G20 members to explore trade and business networks beyond the Indo-pacific region with domino effects. This summit may help Bangladesh in negotiating and securing post-LDC economic demands in terms of market expansion, business development, and technology transfer. It may enable common grounds for negotiations with G20 members regarding signing both bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) or Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs). There is no denying that G20 cooperation is always instrumental in determining the course and trend the world takes, including in Bangladesh.
Our consistent economic competitiveness underpinned by a thriving, cost-efficient manufacturing base and robust export-oriented industries led by the resilient private sector, consistent macro-economic stability and rewarding investment ecosystem have positioned Bangladesh as an attractive trading partner for the G20 nations to a large extent. Since Bangladesh is a proven and growing trading partner in the world economy, a broad range of export diversification and investment promotion efforts are currently underway. Frontier export industries like RMG, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, leather and leather goods, jute, furniture, agro-processed products and IT & ITES are gaining traction in the global market showcasing the country’s industrial strength and evolving potential. This contribution to the global trade has been acknowledged by many global leaders and the invitation of Bangladesh to this prestigious summit is a testimony of our economic success at the global level.
Barrister Md. Sameer Sattar, President, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI)