Bangladesh was Australia’s 32nd largest trading partner in 2017 accounting for 0.3% of Australia’s total trade portfolio. Total trade (imports + exports) with Bangladesh totalled A$2.5b in 2017. Australia’s main exports to Bangladesh were vegetables, cotton, wheat and copper. The large jump in Australian exports in 2017 was largely caused by a rebound in commodity prices and strong goods export growth. Bangladesh’s main exports to Australia fell 1.7% in 2018 driven by weaker demand for clothing and textiles.
Australia’s service exports and bilateral investment with Bangladesh are miniscule. Student enrolments have been relatively steady at 6,000 people a year. Bangladesh is the world’s ninth largest remittance recipient, with inflows equivalent to 7% of GDP, remittance flows from Australia remain small, but have risen almost 10-fold since 2010.
Australian firms such as Murray Goulburn Co-operatives, the Plexal Group, Queensland Cotton, Macquarie University, the SMEC engineering company all have significant operations in Bangladesh. Rapid urbanisation and rising living standards, has increased the size of the middle class to more than 30 million, offering increased potential for successful business within Bangladesh. Bangladeshi investment in Australia is virtually non-existent, while Australian investment is miniscule at $200 million. There are large opportunities for investment in the energy, telecommunications and infrastructure sectors.