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EU trade relations with Bangladesh. Facts, figures and latest developments.

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The EU works closely with Bangladesh in the framework of the EU-Bangladesh Cooperation Agreement, concluded in 2001. This agreement provides broad scope for cooperation, extending to trade and economic development, human rights, good governance and the environment.

Bangladesh has been a WTO member since 1995 and, as a least developed country, benefits from the EU's 'Everything but Arms' arrangement, which grants duty-free, quota-free access for all exports, except arms and ammunition.

Trade picture

  • The EU is Bangladesh's main trading partner, accounting for around 19.5% of Bangladesh's total trade in 2020.
  • In 2020, Bangladesh was the EU's 34th largest trading partner in goods.
  • EU imports from Bangladesh are dominated by clothing, accounting for over 90% of the EU's total imports from Bangladesh.
  • EU exports to Bangladesh are dominated by machinery and transport equipment.
  • Between 2017 and 2020, EU-28 imports from Bangladesh reached on average €14.8 billion per year, which represents half of Bangladesh's total exports.

The EU and Bangladesh

As a Least Developed Country (LDC), Bangladesh benefits from the most favourable regime available under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), namely the Everything But Arms (EBA) arrangement. EBA grants the 46 LDCs – including Bangladesh – duty-free, quota-free access to the EU for exports of all products, except arms and ammunition.

In July 2013, in response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex which killed scores of workers, the EU took the initiative of launching a Sustainability Compact for Bangladesh with the aim of improving labour rights and factory safety in the ready-made garment industry. The initiative brings together the EU, the Government of Bangladesh, the USA, Canada – i.e. the main markets for Bangladeshi garment production – as well as the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Compact is based on three inter-linked pillars:

  • respect for labour rights;
  • structural integrity of buildings and occupational safety and health, and;
  • responsible business conduct.

In October 2019, the authorities of Bangladesh agreed to develop a roadmap, the National Action Plan (NAP) on the Labour Sector, with timelines for reforms to improve labour rights – notably the alignment of the Bangladesh Labour Act and the Export Processing Zone Labour Act – with the ILO fundamental conventions. The NAP was published by Bangladesh in September 2021.

Trading with Bangladesh