Bangladesh's graduation to an upper middle-income country by 2031 seems apparently feasible if the economy can sustain its usual growth speed riding on the export-oriented manufacturing sector and if the current investment situation improves.
The private sector investment to GDP ratio needs to be increased by over 30 percent.
Besides, the 8th five-year plan and the upcoming development plans including the prospective plans must have a vision. As a whole, the government plans require more concentration on the advancement of the pro-private sector.
Besides, the country's economy requires a focused road to recovery to rejuvenate its pace from the pandemic distress. The sooner the pandemic pitfalls can be overcome, the better the economy would get back on its feet.
Above all, a result-oriented and target-driven road map to investment, export, industrial sustainability and employment is required with the participation of all stakeholders to steer the journey towards an upper middle-income country.
Off late, business and industry experience the most challenging time in the economic history of Bangladesh.
The cross-border trade has been severely affected, thereby damaging all actors in the process and declining export by 19 percent and import by 8.53 percent. The import is associated with local export-oriented industries. Slow revival pace of economic activities affects Bangladesh's V-shaped economic recovery.
However, the timely policy support from the government helps to a large extent most of the affected business as of now.
The country's international trade and private investment are largely connected with the global trading and value network.
Foreign and local investment in industrial advancement is critical though the growth trend is lower than desired. Graduation into an upper middle-income country offers both challenges and opportunities.
Prior to that, with the planned graduation from LDC in 2024,
Bangladesh will lose special and differential treatment of WTO, preferential market access benefit under EU GSP and other markets.
The country's export will face stringent challenges due to higher tariff in different markets.
Graduation will unveil opportunities for businesses for low-cost foreign private financing as sovereign rating and foreign exchange reserves of the country may improve. This branding of the country will draw more foreign investment to different emerging sectors.
The entrepreneurs here are dynamic and resilient. Accordingly, the graduation will also force them to transform business models, diversify local industry and explore new export markets overseas.
Rizwan Rahman, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI)