Insight – Opportunities in Bangladesh for Australian agricultural exports

9 August 2022

Demand for healthy, high-quality food and beverages is rising in Bangladesh, thanks to a growing population and an increasing number of middle-income households. This is creating opportunities for Australian agricultural exports, including dairy, citrus, table grapes, grain, oil seeds and pulses.

Bangladesh market snapshot

Bangladesh’s GDP increased from US$115.3 billion in 2010 to US$416.3 billion in 2021. This makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the past decade.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-Australia relations. On 15 September 2021, the Australia-Bangladesh Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) was signed. The TIFA will help expand bilateral trade opportunities across several sectors including agriculture, infrastructure and education.

Australia hosted a government delegation from Bangladesh in February 2022 for the first official TIFA meeting.

Outlook for key Australian exports to Bangladesh

Australia exported a record $1.2 billion in agricultural, fisheries and forestry (AFF) products to Bangladesh between July 2021 and June 2022 (Source: ABS 2022). This record number was due to increased chickpea, canola and wheat exports.

However, the value of Australian horticulture exports to Bangladesh fell in 2021–22. This was due to poor seasonal conditions in Australia and a lack of freight availability for exporters, rather than reduced demand in Bangladesh.

Figure 1: Top Australian AFF exports to Bangladesh (FY2017–18 to FY2021–22)

Fig 1_Bangladesh top imports

Dairy products

Rising incomes and an increasingly health-conscious population have led to increased dairy consumption in Bangladesh.

  • Both domestic production (+130,00 metric tonnes) and the value of imports (+$600 million) reached record high levels in 2021. Demand is expected to continue increasing (TradeMap 2022 – see Figure 2).
  • Milk powders and concentrates make up most of Bangladesh’s dairy imports. In 2021, cheese imports also grew to $9.6 million, a 36% increase on the previous 3-year average.
  • Australia is an important supplier of dairy products to Bangladesh, including approximately 5% of Bangladesh’s milk powder imports. Milk powder is used in Bengali desserts, baked goods and condensed milk production.
  • Bangladesh maintains tariffs on several dairy products. Tariffs on milk powder are between 10% and 25% of the product value.

Figure 2: Bangladesh dairy imports (2016–2021)

 Fig 2_Bangladesh dairy imports

Citrus and table grapes

Demand for fresh fruit, including citrus and table grapes, has increased substantially since 2017 (see Figure 3). Imports fell in 2021, primarily due to reduced demand from the tourism sector and slower economic growth, which is reducing consumer spending power. Despite recent declines, demographic trends are expected to drive Bangladesh’s demand for imported fruit over the medium term.

  • Bangladesh’s citrus imports increased by 160% between 2017 and 2020, before declining in 2021. South Africa, India, Egypt, and China supply most of Bangladesh’s citrus imports.
  • Bangladesh is a small but important market for Australian citrus. Australia exported around $2.3 million in citrus fruits per year between 2019–20 and 2020–21 (ABS 2022).
  • Bangladesh table grape imports were $127.1 million higher in 2021 than 2017.
  • China is Bangladesh’s major table grape supplier. However, China’s market share has fallen from 90% in 2019 to 61% in 2021.
  • Australian table grape exports to Bangladesh peaked at $7.4 million in 2019–20 but have fallen in subsequent years.

In June 2021, the Australian and Bangladeshi governments agreed on improved import conditions for Australian citrus and table grape exports. This included allowing in-transit cold treatment. In-transit treatments shorten the time between harvest and arrival in-market, which improves the quality of the fruit.

Figure 3: Bangladesh citrus and fresh grape imports (2017–2021)

Fig 3_Bangladesh citrus and grape imports

Grain, oil seeds and pulses

The value of Australian grain, canola seed and pulse exports to Bangladesh increased by 180% in 2021–22. This was due to record Australian production, high global prices and reduced production in Bangladesh. As Bangladesh’s population grows, demand for staple products, such as chickpeas, lentils, wheat and canola, will continue to increase.

With food security concerns likely to rise, Australia has an important role as a reliable supplier of high-quality crop products to Bangladesh.

Resources

The Manual of Importing Country Requirements has information about Bangladesh’s import conditions.

Austrade has more information about market opportunities in Bangladesh.

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, is available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

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