Bangladesh: Case Study for the MDG Gap Task Force Report

Research reports and studies
April 2010

The United Nations (UN) compiles the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Gap Report. The 2010 version of the report will emphasise the ‘needs gap’, which measures the gap between actual delivery on global commitments and ‘estimated needs for support’ by developing countries. This is an important gap, because it provides an estimate relating to whether the partnership envisaged under MDG 8 is effectively helping to address the needs of developing countries.

One way to analyse the needs gap and the way MDG 8 commitments could help is through in-depth country case studies of individual countries to review where the gaps are and discuss recent trends with respect to development finance. Four country studies (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia and Uganda) will focus on the needs gap in official development assistance (ODA), trade and debt relief. They will analyse whether the commitments and delivery in these three essential and interrelated areas are meeting the actual needs of these countries over 2000 until 2009, with attention regarding the impact of the economic crisis on these three areas.

This paper discusses these issues in the case of Bangladesh. It will first review progress towards reaching the MDGs (Section 2). It will then provide evidence on how indicators in the areas of aid, trade and debt have evolved (Section 3). This will provide the background of a discussion on how MDG 8 has already been addressing the MDG needs gaps (Section 4). Section 5 concludes.

Bangladesh has grown at around 6 per cent annually since 2005. Several of the MDGs are likely to be met (e.g. halving poverty and improving access to water and education), although some (health related) may not be attained so this is a serious shortcoming. Bangladesh has weathered the storm of the financial crisis relatively well (Te Velde et al, 2010). The current account has been positive for some time and this has led to large reserves. On the other hand, there is a large government deficit (some 5 per cent of GDP in the past few years). The crisis has had some impact (estimates are around a 2 percentage point less poverty reduction compared to a no-crisis scenario), and this will reinforce the relevance of MDG 8 commitments, but it is unlikely that the crisis has seriously affected progress towards the MDGs.

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