Regional integration as a strategic avenue for Bangladesh: LDC graduation with momentum

On November 24, 2021, the General Assembly of the United Nations recommended Bangladesh for graduation out of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group in 2026, endorsing the earlier recommendations by the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) of the United Nation and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In view of the likely implications of LDC graduation, Bangladesh will need to make a crucial transition from ISM driven competitive edge to skills-and productivity-driven competitiveness.

A sustainable transition from LDC to (non-LDC) developing country status will thus call for appropriate strategies and adequate preparedness to LDC graduation and beyond.

The challenges facing Bangladesh’s aspiration for graduation with momentum has been further accentuated by newly emerging challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

In light of the above, the study focuses on three areas:

Section 1 presents a brief discussion on the state of the economy and the external sector performance that sets the backdrop for Bangladesh’s preparations for LDC graduation.

Section 2 examines some of the possible implications of LDC graduation for Bangladesh’s trade and external sector performance.

Section 3 and 4 respectively make the case for strengthened regional integration, and sketch out key elements of an aggressive related policy agenda to that effect.

Section 5 summarizes and concludes.