Current business situation
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides advice for business travellers and tourists going to Bangladesh. This is regularly updated, and should be checked before planning travel.
Visitors to Bangladesh should understand that social and business customs are more strongly observed and formal than in Australia.
Relationship building is a very important aspect to doing business and is best achieved outside of the workplace, usually during lunch or dinner.
In business circles, a handshake is very common, although men should not shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand first. Always use the right hand when receiving and/or offering items, such as a business card. Bangladeshis tend to be very free in exchanging business cards, even at social gatherings, so a plentiful stock is essential.
Men usually wear trousers and a short or long sleeved shirt. Tie and jackets are worn in more formal situations, such as attending seminars or visiting government offices. Local women wear a long dress called a 'sari' or a kameez set and foreigners usually wear trousers and a loose blouse for business situations. For informal dinners or functions casual evening dresses or long skirts are usually worn. Avoid wearing shorts or miniskirts.
It may take some time to establish the trust of your Bangladeshi hosts. Meetings will often begin with small talk. Do not rush this part of the meeting and it can take over several meetings for your Bangladeshi colleagues to feel relaxed and comfortable with you.
Bangladeshis tend to be formal and in a business meeting 'Mr MacDonald' is a safer form of address than 'Kevin'. 'Sir' and 'Madam' are also acceptable forms of address, until a foreigner gradually develops a first name basis relationship with a Bangladeshi.
Most Bangladeshi business people have a fair knowledge of English. Often, in the presence of foreigners, Bangladeshis may converse among themselves in their native tongue. In most instances this is unintentional and should not be construed as discourteous behaviour.
Exchanging gifts is quite common in social circumstances, but less common between business colleagues. However, corporate gifts are widely used.
Avoid pointing the soles of your feet at people or using your feet to point at something.
Public displays of affection, even between husband and wife, are frowned upon.
Banking and finance
There are 56 banks operating in Bangladesh including foreign, government and private local banks.
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
Bangladesh Central Bank
Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA)
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Federation of Chamber of Commerce & Industries
International Chamber of Commerce
Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Ministry of Commerce
Ministry of Finance, National Board of Revenue
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
News and media
BD News 24
The Daily Star
News from Bangladesh
Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.