Bangladesh’s economy is “not at risk, rather it is in a consolidated state” despite the ongoing global economic downturn, said the economists and policymakers of the country at a roundtable titled “Challenges of Global Slowdown and Bangladesh” organized by the Editors Guild, Bangladesh at the Dhaka Gallery on Saturday, media reported.
Speaking at the roundtable, Zaidi Sattar, chairman of the Policy Research Institute (PRI), said that if the ongoing process of imports is effective, and if it can be kept at $80 billion, which was $82 billion in the last fiscal year, exports at $55 billion, and remittances at $24-25 billion, then Bangladesh can move from current account deficit to surplus.
The economist said the post-Covid situation, the Russia-Ukraine war, an increase in fuel and food prices, and around 20% appreciation of dollars internationally have created a problem in Bangladesh’s balance of payments.
“However, for global geopolitical reasons, some export opportunities are coming to Bangladesh. So, this is also a hope to increase our exports,” the economist said.
Professor Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem), said the current challenge of the global downturn will slow down Bangladesh’s growth.
“It is realistic to accept some lower growth. If GDP falls from 7.5 to 5.5%, that would still be high growth in the current global context,” he added.
In spite of various challenges, he pointed out some hope in terms of exports to Europe and the US markets.
“Our main export products fall into the basic needs of consumers in Europe and North America. So, it offers us some hope,” he added.
Economist KAS Murshid said, “We have never faced such uncertainty before. So, it is impossible to make any forecast. If there is no control over the global situation, we are left completely at our own devices. We are lucky that we have a very dynamic domestic market.”
Putting emphasis on non-farm, farm, and industrial sectors, he said, “We need to encourage smaller guys. They are very dynamic.”
They described Bangladesh as very resilient in the economic crisis.
To meet challenges, they emphasized product diversification as well as market diversification, signing more bilateral free trade agreements and preferential trade agreements, increasing solar power production and gas exploration, and supplying more skilled workers to the global labour market.
Shamsul Alam, state minister for planning, said remittances and exports have decreased in one month. But analyzing one month’s data is very risky, the trend is not clear.
Economists, former government officials, and experts also spoke at the event.