Bangladesh's export figure will cross the $60 billion mark by 2021 thanks to the presence of high quality diversified products in the export basket, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday.
Bangladesh shipped only 25 kinds of products worth Tk 787 crore in 1972, just after the independence of the country, he said.
The country exported 700 different kinds of products to 199 countries worth $41.5 billion last fiscal year, of which $37 billion came from the export of commodities and the remaining from the services sectors, Ahmed said.
Being the second largest garment exporter in the world, Bangladeshi manufacturers shipped $30.66 billion worth of apparel items last fiscal year, Ahmed said.
The minister spoke at a function on “Bangladesh's political economy (1952-2041) and the relevance of National Mourning Day” organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at its office in Dhaka.
Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, FBCCI president, chaired the function, moderated by Sheikh Fazle Fahim, vice president, where businessmen, researchers, economists and lawmakers were also present.
The minister also praised the quality of the products of the country's emerging pharmaceuticals sector. He said the local producers meet 98 percent of the local demand for medicine and also export the items to 100 countries.
If the sustainable development goal is implemented properly, the rate of extreme poverty in Bangladesh would come down to less than 3 percent by 2030, Ahmed expected.
The economy will be buoyant as the government has been implementing some mega projects like the Padma bridge, Payra sea port and power plants. After achieving independence in 1971, many renowned global economists said Bangladesh would be the model of the poorest countries of the world, but they now speak highly of the economic development the country has achieved, Ahmed said.
The size of the country's gross domestic product was only $8 billion in 1972, which is $280 billion now, said Atiur Rahman, former governor of Bangladesh Bank.
The life expectancy of Bangladeshis was only 47 years, which has gone up to 72.5 years now thanks to the improved lifestyle of the masses, Rahman said.
The central bank has $32 billion in foreign currency reserve now, he said.
It took over 100 years to produce 5,000 megawatts of electricity, but now the country produces nearly 15,000 megawatts of electricity a day, he said.
However, the country needs to create 1.6 million new jobs, he said.
“I am happy that nine lakh mobile banking agents have been created across the country,” the former governor said, adding that if every agent appoints three persons, the total employment will be 27 lakh.
He suggested factory owners take loans from Bangladesh Bank's $200 million green fund for making environment-friendly industrial units.
The country's light engineering units at Dholaikhal, Jinzeera, Bogra and Jessore are so capable now that they can produce spare parts of aeroplanes, he said.
Abdul Mannan, chairman of University Grants Commission, said the amount of Bangladesh's foreign debt is $28.5 billion while that of Pakistan is $92 billion.
Bangladesh needs innovation in different areas for higher economic growth, said Mozammel Haque Babu, managing director of private television channel Ekattor TV.
Md Abdul Hannan, a former diplomat and secretary; and Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed and Mir Nasir Hossain, former FBCCI presidents, also spoke.