Bangladesh has very limited ability to attract global brands to do business in the country because it has minimal familiarity, influence and reputation around the globe. This is reflected in the Global Soft Power Index 2020, where Bangladesh ranks 57th out of 60 countries, and achieves only 28.5 out of 100 score.
Out of three metrics, Bangladesh shares the worst score with Kazakhstan and Myanmar in the 'Influence' metric with a score of 2.6 out of 10.
In the other two metrics, Bangladesh scores 4.7 in Familiarity and 5.3 in Reputation out of 10.
The index shows a positive correlation between tourism and Familiarity. For example, the US has the highest number of arrival and the highest score in Familiarity. Dr Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of the World Bank office in Bangladesh, said, "Unless we improve our governance environment to give a better experience to both Bangladeshis and foreigners for any purpose such as business or tourism, we cannot create a better image of Bangladesh."
For providing better experience he suggests, "We need to improve our traffic, customs, immigration services. Compared to neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, we are lagging behind in terms of those services."
Lastly, he stated, "We need to have a better consistency between our rhetoric and our action. It's good to feel proud about the country, but the pride should translate into action that improves service delivery for both Bangladeshis and visitors, and improve their experience."
The Global Soft Power Index 2020 was released by global consultancy Brand Finance on 25 February 2020 at an event titled "Brand Finance Global Soft Power Summit 2020, London", where Ban Ki-moon, the 8th secretary-general of the United Nations was the keynote speaker.
Ban Ki-moon mentioned that "As secretary-general of the United Nations, I led the Organization with the understanding that soft power is an essential ingredient in international diplomacy."
The index is a comprehensive research study, based on responses gathered from around 55,000 people in more than 100 countries, and finally they surveyed the perception of soft power in 60 nations.
The perceptions consist of three metrics: Familiarity, Reputation, and Influence, as well as seven soft power pillars: Business & Trade, Governance, International Relations, Culture & Heritage, Media & Communications, Education & Science and People & Values.
Brand Finance carried out two surveys during July and August last year through general public and specialist audiences to construct the index.
What is Soft Power
Power certainly does not only mean "the ability or right to control people or things" but importantly it is also "the ability to act or produce an effect".
When it comes to looking at nations' leadership through the lens of power, many terms come up to identify government policies and overall nations' influences such as hard power, soft power, sticky power, old power, and new power.
American political scientist and Harvard professor, Joseph Nye first introduced the term 'Soft Power' in 1990. The main postulation is that there is an alternative method of foreign policy for states to win the support of others; rather than the traditional hard power method, which involves using military and economic means as the primary method of achieving its goals.
Top soft power leaders
The United States, due to its global influencing ability, ranks at the top in the index with a 67.1 overall score, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom.
Moreover, the highest number of international arrivals and the thriving tourism in the US help it to achieve the highest score in Familiarity too.
Respected leadership and good international relations make Germany second in the index.
For the highest score in Business & Trade, Japan is the fourth global soft power country followed by China. Japan is also the top Asian country.
Although Switzerland is the top reputed country, its mediocre score in Influence makes the country 8th in the ranking.
South Asian Scenario
Three South Asian Countries make it in the 60-country index: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Bangladesh has the worst score of the three.
India, the most populous democracy is top in South Asia and 27th in global ranking with a score of 41.6. India also gained the highest score in all three metrics in South Asia.
Pakistan, with a 29.7 score becomes second in South Asia and 53rd globally. Bangladesh achieved a higher score than Pakistan only in Reputation.
Soft power defines a nation's virtuous identity, image, attractiveness, leadership and value. All these virtues are necessary to attract foreign investors and promote domestic markets globally, as well as to develop international partnerships. Therefore, there is no better way than strengthening the soft power of Bangladesh to achieve these goals.