Bangladesh is set to surpass India in terms of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 thanks to robust agriculture production, exports and remittance despite the coronavirus pandemic, in another testimony to the country’s steadily growing economy.
According to the International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook report, Bangladesh’s per capita GDP would rise to $1,887.97 at current prices at the end of this year, up 3.96 per cent from $1,816.04 in 2019.
India’s per capita GDP would fall to $1,877 in 2020, a decline of 10.3 per cent. Bangladesh’s progress was appreciated by the Indian media yesterday.
In per capita GDP terms, India was significantly above Bangladesh till a few years ago, but the gap has been substantially closed owing to the country’s rapidly rising exports.
Besides, during the intervening period, while India’s savings and investments remained lukewarm, the corresponding numbers for Bangladesh saw a sizeable surge, the Economic Times of India reported. Five years ago, India’s per capita GDP was nearly 40 per cent higher than that of Bangladesh.
In the last five years, Bangladesh’s per capita GDP has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 9.1 per cent, against 3.2 per cent growth posted by India for the period.
“This has allowed Bangladesh to close the economic gap with its giant neighbour,” said the Business Standard of India.
Not only that, Bangladesh is set to post the highest per capita GDP growth rate in South Asia and the fourth-highest in the whole of Asia in 2020 compared to that of last year, comfortably ahead of India and China, data from the IMF showed.
The country’s per capita GDP growth would be the sixth highest in the world in the current calendar year, as the pandemic has battered most economies in the world in the eight months.
Apart from Bangladesh, only two countries in South Asia, namely Bhutan and Nepal, would register positive growth in the per capita GDP, expanding by 2.2 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively in 2020.
Pakistan’s per capita GDP was $1,348.68 in 2019. Its figure for 2020 was not available in the IMF’s report.
In Asia, only Egypt, Timor-Leste and Turkmenistan are ahead of Bangladesh in per capita GDP growth terms, expanding by 17 per cent, 16.25 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, would see its per capita GDP growth rise at 3.01 per cent.
In Africa, only Malawi’s per capita GDP growth would be higher than that of Bangladesh as it would expand by 5.65 per cent.
Among the Latin American and Caribbean countries, only Guyana is ahead of Bangladesh: its per capita GDP would increase by 32 per cent this year, the IMF data showed.
No other country in the world is ahead of Bangladesh when it comes to per capita GDP growth in 2020 and most of them would see a contraction because of the pandemic.
“Agriculture, exports and remittance are behind the country’s strong economic growth,” said Prof M Shamsul Alam, a member of General Economics Division of the planning ministry.
He said Bangladesh’s rice production rose by 2 million tonnes alone last fiscal year compared to that a year ago. The country brought home its highest-ever remittance in FY20 and the flow has kept its momentum even during the pandemic.
“We have always said that the economy has been growing at a higher pace but some civil society organisations and experts did not take our words into consideration. Now, a multilateral organisation’s data is showing that we have been right,” Prof Alam told The Daily Star yesterday.
India’s top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been critical of the centre over the state of the economy, hit out at the government after the IMF projections.
“Solid achievement of 6 years of BJP’s hate-filled cultural nationalism. Bangladesh set to overtake India,” he tweeted yesterday.
Bangladesh’s GDP grew 5.2 per cent last fiscal year, which was the highest among 46 countries in Asia, said the Asian Development Bank recently. India’s economy declined by 9 per cent and Pakistan’s economy grew by 0.4 per cent.
The ADB has forecasted that Bangladesh’s economy would expand by 6.8 per cent in FY21 to post the fourth-highest growth in the region.
Three countries would be ahead of Bangladesh this fiscal year: China’s economy would grow by 7.8 per cent, India’s by 8 per cent and that of the Maldives by 10 per cent.
Pakistan’s economy would expand by 2 per cent.
The World Bank said Bangladesh’s economic growth would decline to 1.6 per cent while India’s economy would post a negative growth of 9.6 per cent in the current fiscal year.
Pakistan’s GDP shrank by 1.5 per cent in FY20 and is set to grow by 0.5 per cent in the current fiscal year.
On Tuesday, the IMF lowered Bangladesh’s GDP growth forecast for FY21 to 4.4 per cent, down from the 5.7 per cent it projected earlier.
India’s economy would contract by 10.3 per cent, which is going to be the third sharpest fall in the world after Spain and Italy, the IMF report said.
The IMF report foresees a sharp recovery for India in the calendar year of 2021, which will allow it to go past Bangladesh again in per capita GDP.
Per capita GDP for India is likely to grow 8.2 per cent to $2,030 next year. Bangladesh’s per capita GDP would grow by 5.4 per cent to $1,990 in the year.
Bangladesh’s per capita GDP has not contracted since 2002, the IMF data showed.
India’s GDP per capita in dollar terms had last contracted 1 per cent year-on-year in 2012 due to currency depreciation, said the Business Standard.
[By Rejaul Karim Byron and Md Fazlur Rahman, Daily Star]
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