Asia Street: Bangladesh Post-Golden Jubilee Outlook Clouded by New Covid-19 Outbreak

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Bangladesh Post-Golden Jubilee Outlook Clouded by New Covid-19 Outbreak

April 9, 2021

Bangladesh Flag (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

The BGA Bangladesh team led by Country Director Imran Al-Amin wrote an update to clients about Bangladesh’s political and economic outlook after the country commemorated its 50th anniversary since independence and the birth centenary of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.  The country’s post-Golden Jubilee outlook has been clouded by a new Covid-19 outbreak, which has forced the country into lockdown.

Context

The new Covid-19 outbreak comes weeks after Bangladesh’s dual celebration March 17-26, which was a major source of legitimacy for the ruling Awami League. The celebration included participation by a number of foreign leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Covid-19 outbreak has forced the country into its second lockdown in less than a year. It comes just as the country had hopes of getting back on the path of post-pandemic recovery, with the World Bank doubling its growth prediction for Bangladesh in March to 3.6 percent, up from 1.6 percent in January.

Significance

While major companies may still be able to operate to some degree during the lockdown, they will be subject to some restrictions and potential instability. Some government offices are operating at partial capacity and the fact the surge in cases is occurring amid Ramadan suggests there could be further restrictions.

In spite of the new outbreak, Dhaka continues to prioritize international engagement, as evidenced by ongoing developments such as the official launch of the U.S.-Bangladesh Business Council on April 6 and the holding of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangladesh the week of April 5-8.

Implications

Though there may be some disruptions, the country’s overall political stability is unlikely to be affected by the recent Covid-19 outbreak given the Awami League’s strong political support and its continued restrictions on dissent.

Apart from getting back on the path to post-pandemic recovery, policymakers will also continue to prepare to manage major challenges ahead, including the country’s graduation from least development country status.

The BGA Bangladesh team will continue to keep clients updated on developments in the country and its impacts on companies and other stakeholders.