The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday lauded the economic progress of Bangladesh on the occasion of its graduation from LDC.
The article titled, 'Bangladesh Is Becoming South Asia's Economic Bull Case' highlighted the country's significant improvement in terms of export gain and per capita income compared to neighbours like India and Pakistan.
According to WSJ, Bangladesh is notable in South Asia for being the closest proxy for the successful development models seen at various stages in South Korea, China and Vietnam. Bangladesh's export-led development is said to have the best modern track record of moving countries from very low-income levels into middle-income status.
Their article also attributed the 80% rise of the export industry in the past decade to the booming garment industry. Meanwhile, it was pointed out that India and Pakistan's exports have actually declined marginally.
WSJ listed other factors that are in favour fo the Bangladesh development model which includes young demographic structure, competitive edge in terms of wage levels, strong and rising female labour-force participation compared to the rest of South Asia.
However, it is not all fine and dandy for Bangladesh economic progression as the export growth is well below that of Vietnam or Cambodia, countries where exports have more than tripled and more than doubled respectively over the last decade.
The New York-based newspaper exampled India's export industry in retrospect while discussing the economic growth in Bangladesh. India saw a boom in export in the early 2000s and then it stagnated, so a continued upward trend is not guaranteed.
The way forward
WSJ prescribed the next step for Bangladesh economy as transitioning toward higher-value forms of manufacturing and exporting akin to Vietnam.
In Vietnam, the export industry is still heavily focused on RMG and its economic complexity is 108 out of the 133 countries measured and ranked by Harvard University's Growth Lab.
The article panned Bangladesh for still not being a part of a viable economic fraternity such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Diversifying exports manufactured in Bangladesh would require greater participation in intra-Asian supply chains—and probably a closer economic relationship with its neighbours to the east, WSJ suggested.