The Land of Rivers and the
Lion City: The Bangladesh
Perspective on Bangladesh–
Khaled Iqbal Chowdhury
Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS)
Bangladesh Singapore Relations
Aims of the Presentation:
To trace the contour of existing diplomatic,
political, economic (trade, investment) and
people to people contacts between
Bangladesh and Singapore.
To advocate for bringing new avenues into
the focus of Singapore-Bangladesh Relations
Bangladesh Singapore diplomatic and
Singapore recognised Bangladesh in February 1972,
immediately after Bangladesh’s independence.
Trade Commission in 1973.
Bangladesh set up High Commission in 1983.
In Bangladesh, Singapore is represented by a Consular
Office opened in December 1997.
Singapore High Commissioner in New Delhi was
concurrently accredited as the Singapore HC to
Bangladesh till appointing separate High Commissioner to
Singapore is now represented in BD by a Non-Resident
High Commissioner based in Singapore.
Nature of Bangladesh-Singapore Relations
Since 1972, relations between Bangladesh and
Singapore are excellent and growing steadily.
Both countries have common membership of UN,
Commonwealth, NAM etc.
Both countries share views on various regional and
Both the countries supported each other’s positions and
candidatures at many global bodies in number of
Important state level visits
Over the years, several high level visits took place between the two
countries at heads of government and ministerial level.
In (September) 1978, the then President of Bangladesh visited
Singapore. It was first state visit from Bangladesh to Singapore and
set a milestone in Singapore-Bangladesh relations.
In (April) 1997, the then Foreign Minister of Singapore, Professor S.
Jayakumar, paid official visit to Bangladesh. Reciprocal visit was
also paid to Singapore by Bangladesh FM in 1998.
In (June) 2004, the then Singapore PM, Mr. Goh Chok Tong, visited
Bangladesh (first high level visit from Singapore to Bangladesh).
The 29 member entourage included senior Ministers; Minister in
PMO, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Home Affairs
and Minister for Manpower.
Important state level visits
In (March) 2005, the then Bangladeshi PM, Mrs. Khaleda Zia, visited
Singapore, the first visit by any Head of Government of Bangladesh
in 26 years.
The Former PM delivered a lecture on “Bangladesh- Economic
Priorities and Challenges” as Distinguished Visitor Lecturer in an
event organised by ISAS.
In (May) 2008, the then Foreign Adviser to the Caretaker
Government of Bangladesh visited Singapore to attend the 7th
Shangri La Dialogue.
In (May) 2009, the present Foreign Minister of Bangladesh is
scheduled to visit Singapore to attend the 8th Shangri La Dialogue.
Quick Facts Bangladesh Singapore
Population 143,910,880 ( July 2007) 4,839,442 (2009 estimate)
Population growth rate 1.29 percent (2009 estimate) 1 percent (2009 estimate)
Real GDP growth (%) 6.21 (2007-08) ----
Foreign Trade (Export) 14.05 (billion US$, 2007-08) 31,768.8 (S$m, Mar/09)
Foreign Trade (Import) 21.82 (billion US$, 2007-08) 27,617.8 (S$m, Mar/09)
Major trade partners for United States, Germany, Malaysia, United States, Hong
exports United Kingdom, France, Italy Kong SAR, Japan, and Taiwan
Major trade partners for India, China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, United States,
imports Hong Kong Japan, China, and Thailand
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, World Bank Database, IMF Publications, Singapore
Statistics, United States Census Bureau, CIA FactBook.
Major agreements with Singapore
Air Service Agreement 1979
Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of
Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation, 1982
Agreement of Maritime Cooperation is at the last phase
of the negotiation.
Bangladesh and Singapore are also party to the
Agreement entitled “Regional Co-operation Agreement
on Anti-Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia
Bangladesh - Singapore Trade and Economic
Singapore is an important trading partner of
In 2007 Bangladesh was 40th largest trading
partner and 27th largest export destination of
Bilateral trade between the two countries has
gradually increased from S$ 1.46 billion in 2002
to S$ 1.7 billion in 2006.
Source: International Enterprises (IE), Singapore and BD HC in Singapore.
The major items of export The major items of export
from Bangladesh to from Singapore to
Naphtha, readymade Refined petroleum
garments (woven and products, industrial
knitwear), footwear, jute chemicals, textile and
bags and sacks, leather leather machinery, zinc,
products, frozen fish, fresh computer and computer
vegetables, chemicals, accessories, heavy duty
ceramic products etc electrical and electronic
equipments, various non-
ferrous metals and
Bangladesh Export to Singapore
Bangladesh Financial Year Value in Million US Dollars
July 2002-June 2003 US$46.00
July 2003-June 2004 US$44.00
July 2004-June 2005 US$64.00
July 2005-June 2006 US$84.00
July 2006-June 2007 US$92.00
July 2007- June 2008 US$123.65
Source: Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau
(Value in ‘000’ US$)
Source: Export Promotion Bureau, Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Import from Singapore
Singapore Calendar Year Value in Million Singapore
January-December 2002 S$1,343.38
January-December 2003 S$1,188.64
January-December 2004 S$1,252.11
January-December 2005 S$1,158.38
January-December 2006 S$1,477.75
January-December 2007 S$1,409.26
January-December 2008 S$ 1,215.37
Source: International Enterprises (IE), Singapore
Singapore Investment in Bangladesh
Singapore is one of the leading investor in Bangladesh.
In 2006, Singapore was the 9th largest investor in
Major investments in telecoms, textiles, electronic &
electrical goods, knit ware, readymade garments.
Foreign Direct Investments are made in various Export
Processing Zones (EPZs).
It is estimated that the Singapore investment in
Bangladesh is more than a billion US dollars.
Source: Bangladesh HC in Singapore.
Singapore Investment in BD
Year No. of Units Investment(US$ in Employment
2007 3 22.469 423
2006 6 23.675 872
Table: Singapore Foreign Direct Investment Proposal Registration Statistics
News Flash ( 16 April, 2009): A joint venture enterprise
Singapore- Bangladesh Company will set up a bitumen balling
plant at Mongla Export Processing Zone. The company will
invest 6.11 million US dollar for the plant
and will produce asphalt bitumen. It will also create
employment opportunities for 426 workers including a number
of foreign nationals.
Source: Board of Investment, Bangladesh and Bangladesh News Agency
Singapore Investment in BD
News Flash (7 March, 2009): Singapore-Bangladesh joint
venture company, M/s. D-Water C.E.T.P. Ecosystems (BD)
Limited, is going to establish Central Effluent Treatment Plant
(CETP) in Dhaka Export Processing Zone.
This company will invest US$ 4.793 million, with an aim of
treating 15.000-43.000 thousand cubic metres liquid effluent
per day of the industries of the Dhaka EPZ.
By installing this Central Effluent Treatment Plant the
environment of Dhaka EPZ will be more standard and pollution
The company will also create employment opportunity for 35
workers including 7 foreign nationals.
Source: The Daily New Nation.
Competitive Sector for Investment
Textiles: At present with about 4,000 factories and a workforce of two
million, this sector has 75% of the total exports earning of the country.
Frozen Foods: The frozen foods export is the second largest export sector
of the country.
Leather : Presently Bangladesh produces between 2 and 3 percent of the
world’s leather market.
Agro-based Industry: Being an agrarian economy, agriculture has
dominated the economy for years.
Information Technology: The market is fast growing at an annual rate of
Source: Board of Investment, Bangladesh.
Bangladesh-Singapore Cooperation in
Under Singapore Cooperation Training Programme Awards
(SCPTA), Singapore offers the training facilities for Bangladeshi
Civil Servants. In 2007, under this programme, 34 Bangladeshi
administrative, financial and police service officers were trained in
Apart from that since November 2006 under the DFID (UK) funded
“Managing at the Top (MATT)” programme around five hundred
officers at the level of Deputy Secretary to Additional Secretary were
trained at the Civil Service College of Singapore.
The two countries also offer various training programmes for each
others’ officers at civil and military training institutes.
Bangladeshi Diaspora in Singapore
It is estimated that there are 80-90 thousand
Bangladeshi origin people living in Singapore.
There have been around 50,000 Bangladeshi migrants
in Singapore in any given year since the late 1990s.
Out of them 90% are migrant workers doing different
kinds of skilled and semi-skilled jobs (mostly employed
in ship building and construction sectors).
Among the professionals, most are mariners followed
by engineers, bankers, management consultants and
university and polytechnic faculty members.
Bangladeshis are also involved in business as well.
Bangladeshi Diaspora in Singapore: Remittance flow
Financial Year Amount in Million US Dolars
2008-2009 (Jul-Mar) 115.02
Source: Foreign exchange Policy Department, Bangladesh Bank
From January to June, 2008 some 56,000 Bangladeshi tourists
visited Singapore for different purposes (32% more than a year
60 per cent of Bangladesh's tourists go to Singapore for leisure, 35
per cent for business and 5 per cent for education and health.
The number of Bangladeshi tourists in Singapore in 2007 (nearly
77,000) marked nearly 20 per cent rise compared to the figure
(64,000) of the previous year 2006.
The number of Bangladeshi tourists in Singapore has increased at
least by 85 per cent since 2004. In 2004, 42,000 Bangladeshi
tourists visited Singapore.
Bangladesh has enormous potentials for tourism; Cox’s Bazar,
Sundarbans, ancient Buddhist monasteries/ relics and many
historical ruins, and can draw tourists from Singapore as well
Source: The Daily Independent
Tourist destinations in BD
Sundarbans: the largest mangrove forest in the
world, is located in the southern part of
Bangladesh. It has been declared as a World
Cox’s Bazar: Miles of golden sands, tall Cliffs,
surfing waves, rare conch shells, colorful
pagodas. Buddhist temples and tribes, delightful
sea-food all these make Cox's Bazar what it is,
the tourist capital of Bangladesh. The world's
longest unbroken (120 km.) beach
Paharpur: By far the most spectacular Buddhist
monuments, discovered in regular excavation in
Mainamati: Excavation on this range has
revealed over 50 ancient sites dotting the hills,
mostly containing various types of Buddhist
remains of the 8th to 12th centuries A.D.
Sharing best practices.
Anti-Money laundering cooperation.
Cooperation in energy sector.
Renewable energy (Bangladesh has immense
potentials to generate energy from solar, wind
power, tidal surge).
Cooperation in IT.
Cooperation in technological/ technical know-
Cooperation in Maritime issues.
Cooperation to mitigate the adverse impacts of
Trade/ investment barrier removal.
Cooperation in healthcare, education and public
Inter faith and inter civilization dialogue.
Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security