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Bangladesh has 16 emerging sectors, which could contribute a lot to the country’s economic development, beyond that facilitated by the readymade garment (RMG) sector, a latest assessment funded by the USAID identified.  Currently Bangladesh’s economy is overdependent on a single sector, the RMG, which typically accounts for over 84 percent of the national exports and nearly 20 percent of the national GDP. The sector does so by creating jobs for millions of workers, particularly for unskilled and semi-skilled rural women. As a result, any international and external shocks to the sector may hamper the domestic economic growth. So, the emerging sectors will act as alternative support in case of economic shocks by creating jobs for millions and offering a major supply chain for domestic and foreign markets, the study found.

The Comprehensive Private Sector Assessment was carried out by a research team of private Bangladeshi entity Inspira Advocacy and Consultancy Limited. The emerging sectors are agri-business, automotive/truck/ bus assembly, ceramics, entrepreneurship, healthcare, ICT and outsourcing, leather and leather goods, light engineering, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, plastic, renewable energy and energy efficient technology, shipbuilding, shrimp and fish, telecommunications and tourism. USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, US Deputy Chief of Mission JoAnne Wagner and USAID Bangladesh Mission Director Derrick S Brown jointly launched the study findings at the office of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) in Dhaka on Tuesday.  The assessment was designed to have a rigorous analysis of the 16 sectors, which together account for over six million jobs and revenue close to $50 billion from the domestic and international markets annually in Bangladesh.

The majority of the sectors are on a fast-paced growth trajectory, exhibiting double-digit growth annually. A burgeoning middle-income class with increased purchasing power is driving domestic consumption, yet ensuring low-cost labour in the international market, which was creating price-competitiveness. Agribusiness (food processing), light engineering, ICT and outsourcing, tourism, pharmaceuticals and healthcare were recognised as key sectors for supporting sustainable economic growth in Bangladesh and for future USAID intervention. 

The six selected sectors together account for approximately 10 percent of the country’s GDP while generating around 3.5 million jobs. Having ensured strong and steady market fundamentals, these sectors are poised to earn more than $60 billion at the end of 2023. Among them, agribusiness (food processing) is thriving on a strong base of domestic backward linkage, having generated around $4.8 billion last fiscal year. The food processing sub-sector alone contributes approximately 3,00,000 jobs and was highly inclusive of an unskilled, female labour force.

In coherence with the government’s Digital Bangladesh vision, the ICT and outsourcing industry earned $1.7 billion last fiscal year while creating around 940,000 jobs. The tourism industry, logging a robust annual revenue of $5.3 billion last year, boasts around seven million domestic travellers per annum. The light engineering industry, standing at $3.1 billion, has the highest multiplier impact potential as it was the backward linkage vertical for almost all production and manufacturing sub-sectors.   Bangladesh is the only least developed economy featuring a well-developed pharmaceuticals sector, which earned $2.5 billion last fiscal year, generating approximately 170,000 white-collar jobs. The healthcare sector is expected to reach annual revenues of over $11 billion by 2023 if the private sector actors could address longstanding growth barriers, including infrastructure gaps and a severe shortage of medical professionals.

Source: The Daily Star, 07.11.2019