The United Nations Organisation (UNO) has recently recognised Bangladesh’s eligibility as a developing country from a least developed country (LDC). This evaluation by the UN was formally announced by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Bangladesh, on the 99th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Toufique Hasan, Deputy High Commissioner (DHC), Bangladesh Deputy High Commission, Kolkata, India, spoke to BE regarding this development. He said, “Bangladesh’s recent eligibility to graduate to a developing country has opened up the door of its potential to emerge as a developed and prosperous nation.
Bangladesh, which has been an LDC since 1975, recently fulfilled the UN’s current criteria to graduate to a developing country. The UN’s Committee for Development Policy (CDP) on March 15, 2018, officially declared that Bangladesh is eligible for graduating from an LDC and handed over a letter in this regard to Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN.”
According to the UN, a country is eligible to graduate from the LDC category if it has a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $1,230 or above for three years, a Human Assets Index (HAI) of 66 or above and an Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) of 32 or below. Bangladesh has fulfilled the three conditions on a very large margin. Bangladesh's current per capita income is $1,610. The HAI is 72.9, while the EVI is 25. Bangladesh, however, will undergo a few years of observation and can officially graduate to a developing country by 2024 at the earliest after the next review that is scheduled in 2021.
Hasan added, “After assuming office in 1996, the present Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undertook various people-oriented development projects in a planned way and such steps made it possible to meet the eligibility criteria to graduate from the LDC group. Due importance was given to starting the development process from the grassroots level and such efforts helped to ensure sustainable progress towards eliminating poverty.
We express our gratitude to the development partners and foreign friends for providing continuous support to our government’s development efforts.”
The evaluation by the UNO will usher in a lot of opportunities for Bangladesh. Speaking on this, Hasan said, “There are lots of positive benefits to this graduation. This would have a big impact on the future financing for development in Bangladesh. The graduation would send a strong message to the foreign investors that Bangladesh is a right place for investment. The other countries who have similar prospects of graduation are Botswana, Cape Verde, Maldives, Samoa, and Equatorial Guinea. Bangladesh is much bigger than others with its 160 million people. And it is first time in such review, a country [Bangladesh] has met all three criteria of graduation that is GDP per capita, the human asset index and also the vulnerability index. It also means that when the second review will come up in 2021, Bangladesh will almost certainly meet the criteria again which means that Bangladesh will formally graduate from a LDC country in 2024. It is big milestone for Bangladesh. This recognition is a vital step forward in achieving our vision 2021 (becoming a middle income country by the year 2021) and vision 2041 (becoming a developed country).”
According to the Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh’s economy grew by 7.1% in 2016, which is the fastest expansion in 30 years. It was also the sixth year in a row that GDP growth of Bangladesh was greater than 6%.
Bangladesh holds a key strategic value for India. The upgradation may have various impacts on the relationship between the two countries. Professor Partha Pratim Basu of the Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, informed BE, “Induced by the export oriented economic policy and signi-ficant trade liberalisation of the 1990s, Bangladesh’s foreign trade has nearly doubled in the 1990s. Bangladesh’s graduation to a developing country status is largely the outcome of this openness to international trade and commerce. India’s support of soft loan and credit line towards Bangladesh contributed in a large measure to their present international standing. Migration driven by economic factors from Bangladesh to India is expected to be arrested to a large extent by this shift in the country s economic status.”
This evaluation by the UN will provide a fillip to the country’s growth process and developmental agenda. It is a giant leap to-wards the maturity of the developmental journey of Bangladesh.