Bangladesh is Australia’s 32nd largest trading partner, accounting for 0.3% of Australia’s total trade portfolio in 2018. Total goods and services trade amounted to $2.5 billion in 2018. Australia’s main exports to Bangladesh include vegetables, cotton, metal waste and paper. Rising incomes and increasing living standards support growing demand for Australian vegetables, dairy and wheat, which accounts for 35% of goods exports to Bangladesh. Cotton exports (25% of goods exports) benefit from ongoing growth in Bangladesh’s competitive ready-made garments sector.
Australia’s service exports and bilateral investment with Bangladesh are small but growing. Australia is increasingly recognised as the preferred international education destination for Bangladeshi students, receiving more than 7,200 students in 2018, the highest level since 2009. Bangladesh is the world’s ninth largest remittance recipient country, with inflows equivalent to 7% of GDP. Remittance flows from Australia to Bangladesh remain small, but are rising sharply.
Australian firms such as Murray Goulburn Co-operatives, the Plexal Group, Queensland Cotton, Macquarie University and the SMEC engineering company all have significant operations in Bangladesh. Rapid urbanisation and rising living standards have increased the size of the middle class to more than 30 million, offering increased potential for business within Bangladesh.
Australian investment in Bangladesh is small, at $320 million, but growing. There are large opportunities for investment in the energy, telecommunications and infrastructure sectors. Bangladeshi investment in Australia is very small.