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Bangladesh: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Bangladesh

Lightweight suits or shirt and tie are recommended. Suits are necessary when calling on Bengali officials. Business cards are given and usual courtesies are observed. Visitors should not be misled by the high illiteracy rate and low educational level of most of the population. Given the opportunity, Bangladeshis prove to be good businesspeople and tough negotiators.

Office Hours

Sun-Thurs 0900-1700 and 0800-1430 (government offices).

Economy

Overcrowded Bangladesh depends mainly on subsistence agriculture, which suffers frequent and severe damage from cyclones and flooding. Due to a worldwide decline in the demand for jute (formerly an important export), Bangladesh has become more dependant on earning foreign income from the manufacture of textiles. There are reserves of natural gas and low-grade coal, which meet the bulk of domestic energy requirements.

Bangladesh continues to rely heavily on foreign aid, which derives from a variety of sources coordinated by the World Bank-led 'Paris Club' of donors. A continuing problem is corruption - Bangladesh is widely recognised to be among the worst offenders.

GDP

US$89 billion (2009).

Main exports

Garments, jute and jute goods, leather, tea and seafood.

Main imports

Machinery and equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, and foodstuffs.

Main trading partners

Exports to: USA, Germany, UK and France; Imports from: India, China and Singapore.

Keeping in Touch in Bangladesh

Telephone

Public telephone booths are located at the principal marketplaces and in post offices in the main towns.

Mobile Phone

Coverage is limited to main towns.

Internet

Public Internet services exist in the main towns and there are also a few Internet cafes, usually with slow connections. Some hotels in Dhaka and Chittagong offer Internet access (mainly to guests).

Media

The main broadcast media in Bangladesh, Radio Bangladesh and BTV Bangladesh Television, the national television channel, are state-owned and favourable to the Government. Little coverage is given to the political opposition, except in the run-up to general elections when a caretaker Government takes control. Although BTV remains the country's sole terrestrial TV channel, private satellite-delivered TV stations have established a presence.

The constitution guarantees press freedom, but journalists are subject to regular harassment from the police and political activists. Bangladeshi newspapers are diverse, outspoken and privately owned. English-language titles appeal mainly to the educated urban elite. The authorities sometimes withdraw foreign publications from circulation over articles or images considered malicious or offensive.

Post

Airmail takes three to four days to Europe; surface mail can take several weeks. Post boxes are blue for airmail and red for surface mail. Post offices are closed on Fridays.