Buying and Selling

flag Bangladesh Bangladesh: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
International Economic Cooperation
Member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), as well as of the preferential trade agreements (SAPTA) and Free Trade Area (SAFTA) associated with the Association.
Member of the Group of 8 Developing Countries (
G-8).
Member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (
BIMSTEC).
Member of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (
APTA).
Non Tariff Barriers
Non-tariff barriers include registration procedures and other regulatory requirements, which often impede access to the market.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
17.22%


Customs Classification
Bangladesh applies the Harmonized Commodity Coding System.
Import Procedures
Documents required for importation include a letter of credit authorisation form, a bill of lading or airway bill, a commercial invoice or packing list, and a certificate of origin. For certain imported items or services, additional certifications or import permits related to health, security or other matters are required by the relevant government agencies. Reduced documentation requirements apply to the public sector.

Foreign companies must obtain authorization from the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports and provide the following documents: photocopy of an import registration certificate; photocopies of invoices, bills of lading, and import permit duly certified by the bank; a copy of the certificate of the General Index Register (GIR); certified copy of the last tax order; name and description of each imported item with the quantity and approximate CIF value.

Private sector importers must provide the following documents: certificate of affiliation to a chamber of commerce and local industry recorded or professional association established in Bangladesh; proof of payment of renewal fees for an import registration certificate (IRC) for the tax year; copy of a certificate of tax identification number (TIN); three copies of the proof of payment of the previous year's income tax.
Importing Samples
Importing samples requires an import licence or an authorisation.
 
 
For Further Information
Bangladesh Customs
SAARC Trade Portal
Asia Trade Hub

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and its population – the eighth-largest in the world - is very young and mostly rural. According to the IMF, the GDP per capita is around USD 2,120 in 2021, so still at a sub-Saharan Africa level. Although the number of middle-class and affluent consumers in Bangladesh remains small compared with those of other big emerging markets in Asia, Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing markets worldwide. In 2015, the Boston Consulting Group projected that, by 2025, the annual income of around 2 million additional Bangladeshis will reach USD 5,000 or more. That means that they will be earning enough to afford goods that offer convenience and luxury, cosmetics and imported products. As of 2020, 22% of the population can be classified as a middle and affluent class, but the ratio is projected to reach 25% by 2025. In regional terms, forecasts indicate that by 2025, 63 cities in Bangladesh will have a middle and affluent class population of at least 100,000.
Consumers traditionally prefer to cook with fresh ingredients, but these habits have changed due to urbanization, decreasing family size, education and employment of women. The urban middle-class and upper-class consumers are buying more and more processed products and are gradually adopting a more consumerist lifestyle.
Consumer Behaviour
For the majority of Bangladeshi consumers, the main factor determining purchase decisions is price. However, compared to other consumers in Southeast Asian emerging markets, far fewer Bangladeshis say that price discounts can sway their decisions.
The social strata with the highest levels of education and students are paying increasing attention to the quality of products, their variety and hygiene. Consumers are highly loyal to brands, but they are also budget and quality conscious. Middle-class and upper-class consumers also take into account the appearance of products, as well as the ambience and comfort when making a purchase. Bangladeshi consumers intend to spend but are wary of debt: even though the majority of them expect their incomes to rise over the next future, they are restrained by concerns—due perhaps to social taboos or to a lack of familiarity with debt instruments—that they will run up debt that they won’t be able to repay.
Bangladeshis are increasingly purchasing online, though the e-commerce market is still not as big as in other neighbouring countries.
Consumers Associations
Consumers Association of Bangladesh
Main Advertising Agencies
Indruk
Rectangle Communications

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Bangladesh has experienced a fast economic growth over the past decade, with an average growth rate of over 6.2% per year. Bangladesh presents a great opportunity in its domestic market and global market too as a promised land. Over the past 15 years it has been witnessing a retail revolution and fast changing retail landscape. The organised retail industry is gradually inching its way forward to be the next most booming sector in Bangladesh like readymade garments; only if appropriate concerted strategies can be taken. The industry itself has expanded its growth over the past several years and organised retailing is undergoing a metamorphosis and expected to scale up over the next decade. Bangladesh has an un-doubtable depth of poverty, but has been one of the 'Next-Eleven tier' of developing economies keeping industrial development as priority. Modern 'superstores' are the next developing industry in the industrialisation of Bangladeshi cities.

The retail sector has traditionally been composed of small family and individual-operated businesses, but modern distribution channels (supermarkets) have emerged over the last ten years. Whilst daily grocery shopping remains very much the same as it has done for years, organised retail (present superstore format of retailing) is undergoing a period of near unprecedented expansion, something that is driving further demand, as well as creating opportunities for further enterprise. Retail stores in Bangladesh, irrespective of product line and price, have begun to appear in diverse shapes and sizes, with convenience stores, discount stores, department stores and superstores a recent phenomenon. Changing tastes and expectations have seen retail shopping move into the realms of being an experience, one where the shopper or visitor enjoys clean air-conditioned and secure surroundings, Some Middle-Class Bangladeshis, who are used to living in gated communities, prefer the new shopping experience at these superstores as they feel more familiar with the shopping style than they would be visiting overcrowded, open 'wet' markets for their everyday grocery shopping.

However, the retailing sector in Bangladesh is undeveloped, structurally weak and fragmented, compared to its South Asian counterparts. The rate of growth of retailing in Bangladesh over recent years was 7.0%. The sector made almost 15% contribution to the national GDP in 2016.
Market share

There is a wide variety of retail stores in Bangladesh, ranging from temporary outdoor stores to modern supermarkets.
Below is a classification by type of store:

  1. Independent grocery stores (about 75% of the market share - including village markets). No imported food products are available, with the exception of first-price products from India.
  2. Stalls of city markets (around 20% of market share), selling one type of product (fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, etc.). These stores usually exist in semi-urban and urban areas. Imported foods and processed foods are available but limited to those purchased by the middle class.
  3. Convenience stores (about 5% market share) located mainly in affluent urban areas, with a clientele made up of wealthy people and foreigners. The offer includes imported food products and high-end local products.
  4. Supermarkets: They entered the Bengali consumer market in the early 2000s. There are about 200 supermarkets, with the first ones opening more than ten years ago. Major supermarkets include Agora, Meena Bazar, Nandan, PQS, Shwapno, Kulshi Mart, etc.
Retail Sector Organisations
Foreign Investor Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Ministry of Commerce Bangladesh

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E-commerce

Internet access
The number of internet users in Bangladesh has been growing steadily, and the penetration rate is currently at 18.3%. In 2017, there were 80,483 million internet users in the country, but with a population of 163 million that number is still low. According to Freedom House, the internet in Bangladesh is 'Partly Free', given that there are occasional mobile service restrictions imposed by the government during times of possible unrest, and some news websites are blocked in the country. The main obstacle to using the Internet in Bangladesh is the infrastructure. Given that telephone connections are more concentrated in urban areas, the internet is still an urban privilege in the country (particularly in and around Dhaka). Outside those areas, mobile operators are providing substantial services using 3G or WiMax, and more than 90% of users access the internet via mobile phone providers. The price of bandwidth has significantly dropped over the last decade, but users say the cost of private internet service is still high. Google is by far the most popular search engine in the country. As of July 2018, the leading search engines in Bangladesh ranked by market share were Google (96.15%), Yahoo! (2.47%), Bing (1.18%), DuckDuckGo (0.06%), Baidu (0.05%) and MSN (0.02%).
E-commerce market
The e-commerce market in Bangladesh has been growing at a tremendous rate. However, the segment currently accounts for a small contribution to the country's economy, as the Internet penetration rate is still quite low. Still, e-commerce has a big potential in the country. In 2017, e-commerce generated almost US$ 120 million in sales. Over 80% of e-commerce traffic in Bangladesh comes from three major regions: Dhaka, which accounts for 35% of total traffic, closely followed by Chittagong at 29%, and Gazipur with 15% of total e-commerce activity each year. Online customers in Bangladesh are primarily interested in purchasing electronics and mobile phones, and they tend to prefer low-cost items. There is a number of local e-commerce platforms in the market, and foreign ones have started investing in Bangladesh. In large urban areas, B2C websites have become extremely popular, as evidenced by the growth of online food delivery sites like HungryNaki and FoodPanda. Cross-border e-commerce is still largely unexplored, particularly due to the fact that online payment remains limited, and cash transactions are still the predominant payment method. According to the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, more than 90% of e-commerce users prefer the cash-on-delivery payment model. Cash-on-delivery constitutes 95% of all the payments that take place, followed by bank/wire transfer (2%), bKash/Ukash (2%), and credit cards (1%). In recent years, smartphones have accounted for a big portion of the market, making them a target for most businesses. Most online shoppers in Bangladesh are between 25 and 34 years and most of them (83%) are male, indicating a big gender divide. Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in the country include daraz.com.bd, ajkerdeal.com, agdoom.com, chaldal.com, and rokomari.com.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Bangladesh has one of the best water transport systems in the region and it accounts for two thirds of freight transport in the country. The main ports (Chittagong, Mongla) provide container services in addition to regular and auxiliary services. Small river ports, located throughout the country, serve smaller industrial and commercial sites. The road freight transport between towns and villages is possible by trucks. The rail network provides mainly passenger transport, but it is also used for freight. Finally, cargo can also be transported by air.
Ports
Mongla
Land ports (Chalna, Khulna, Dhaka)
Airports
Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport (Dhaka)
Shah Amanat International Airport (Chittagong)
Osmani International Airport (Sylhet)
Sea Transport Organisations
Bangladesh Land Port Authority
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority
Ministry of Shipping
Mongla Port Authority
Air Transport Organisations
Civil Aviation Authority
Road Transport Organisations
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority
Bangladesh Bridge Authority
Rail Transport Organisations
Bangladesh Railway

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Industry accounts for just under 30% of the Bangladeshi GDP and is dominated by the textile industry, which accounts for 80% of total exports. The clothing industry is one of the largest in the world. There are over 4,000 factories employing about 3.6 million skilled and inexpensive workers. These include industry leaders such as Wal-Mart, H&M, The Children's Place, Mango, JC Penney, Gap, Benetton, Sears, Li & Fung or PVH. Bangladesh also has significant gas reserves: this sector is dominated by Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, ONGC and Petrobangla.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Address BD - Bangladesh Business Directory
Bangladesh BusinessDir.com - Bangladesh business directory
Bangladesh Yellow Pages - Bangladeshi business directory
BD Query - Business Directory of companies in Bangladesh
BD Trade Info - Search engine and online business directory of Bangladesh
Biz Bangladesh - Business directory Bangladesh
Business Directory Bangladesh - Businesses and services in Bangladesh
Moumaachi - Business listing in Bangladesh
TradeBangla - Business Directory of Bangladesh
Yalwa - Business Directory
 

To search directories by industry in Bangladesh, check out our service Business Directories.

 
Professional Associations by Sector
21 professional associations listed for Bangladesh.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry
SME Foundation
General Professional Associations
Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC)
Bangladesh Employers' Federation
 
 

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Latest Update: November 2022