ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Exports from Bangladesh during the Recession

Bangladesh exports held up rather well during the global recession, even as major exporting nations including China and India suffered heavily. More than 90% of the goods exported from Bangladesh are final consumer goods, such as apparels and frozen food. Import data for the two largest markets for Bangladeshi exports show that the import of final consumer goods either did not decline or declined much less than the non-consumption goods. Using insights from income-consumption theories, this article argues that the principal reason for the relatively good performance of the export sector is the nature of the export basket of Bangladesh.

I am grateful to M S Haque for research assistance.

The global recession of 2008-09 had a devastating effect on world trade. The value of world merchandise exports, which had registered a healthy growth of over 15% in 2007 and 2008, fell by a massive 23% in 2009 (WTO 2010). Few countries escaped the harsh impact of the recession. The top 30 exporting countries of the world suffered a reduction in their exports ranging from 11% (Hong Kong) to 40% (Saudi Arabia).1 Developing economies experienced a decline of 22% in merchandise exports. The least developed countries were the hardest hit; their exports fell by a whopping 27%. The impact of such a large decline in the export trade on the livelihood of the poor and the vulnerable cannot be underestimated.

Bangladesh’s Export Puzzle

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