Growth moderated last year, inflation declined, and the current account returned a larger surplus. This year, growth will slip again, reflecting slower expansion in exports, falling worker remittances, and political unrest before parliamentary elections. Higher inflation and a modest current account deficit are expected. The garment industry faces challenges in adopting tough compliance and safety standards. Growth should improve in the following year, but a major boost will come only with ramped up investment in infrastructure.

Economic performance

As officially estimated, gross domestic product (GDP) in Fiscal Year 2013 (ended 30 June 2013) grew by 6.0%, less than the 6.2% recorded in FY2012. Agriculture growth slipped to 2.2% from 3.1% in FY2012 as crop output was held down by higher input costs, lower output prices, and unfavorable weather. Services growth slowed to 5.7% from the previous year’s 6.0% owing to stagnant imports and frequent hartals (political demonstrations) that disrupted supply chains and affected retail and wholesale trade. Industry growth rose slightly to 9.0% from 8.9% in FY2012, with contributions from construction and small-scale manufacturing.

Selected Economic Indicators (%) - Bangladesh 2014 2015
GDP Growth 5.6 6.2
Inflation 7.5 6.5
Current Account Balance (share of GDP) -0.5 -1.5

Source: Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2014; ADB estimates.

Economic prospects

The forecasts for FY2014 and FY2015 rest on several assumptions: Political stability will be restored following the January 2014 national elections, improving consumer and investor confidence. The central bank will be watchful, in line with the January 2014 monetary policy statement, to keep inflation in check while helping direct steady credit flows to the private sector. Electricity and fuel prices will be raised to lower subsidy costs. It will be possible to mobilize more foreign financing, thus limiting government bank borrowing. Food grain and oil prices will remain stable on the international market. And the weather is normal.

GDP growth is expected to slow to 5.6% in FY2014, owing to a decline in remittances (which have been equivalent to about 15% of private consumption spending) and as export growth tapers off in the coming months. Domestic demand was depressed in the first half of the year because the prolonged political unrest ahead of parliamentary elections in January 2014 dented consumer and investor confidence. This is reflected in lower private credit growth, a decline in imports of consumer goods and capital machinery, and modest growth in imports of raw materials. Growth is expected to rebound to 6.2% in FY2015, aided by higher remittance and export growth, as well as by prospects for continued economic recovery in the US and the euro area. A likely rise in consumer and investor confidence as the political situation stabilizes is also expected to stimulate demand and strengthen growth momentum.

Source: ADB. 2014. Asian Development Outlook 2014. Manila.