Intellectual property rights and other trade and development challenges

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Despite being a least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh is experiencing such rapid economic growth that it is anticipated that it will graduate from this status by 2024. This remarkable result can be attributed to successive policies that promote a free market, a restructure of its economy to export-orientated industries such as readymade garments, and the up-skilling and modernisation of its workforce. These changes have created both an economic and social evolution in Bangladesh. More than ever, women are entering into the workforce with the ratio of women to men in the workforce rising from 26% in 1990 to 44% in 2018. This is also met with a massive migration of people from rural to urban areas, with Bangladesh becoming a majority urban population by 2025. However, as the ship breaking industry demonstrates, with its associated marine pollution, this economic growth leaves a significant environmental legacy for Bangladesh, and serious question marks remain as to whether Bangladesh can achieve its aspirations for more sustainable trade and long-term economic growth.

This chapter will examine the key features of Bangladesh trade, including an examination of its comparative advantages and its progress towards a middle-income economy. This chapter will then pivot to consider the structural challenges that are associated with LDC graduation, namely the imposition of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) obligations. Both the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries will be used as case studies to illustrate these challenges and opportunities. This chapter will also consider the issues that will continue to dominate Bangladesh’s trade, including non-tariff barriers in the form of SPS measures. This chapter will also consider how Bangladesh can facilitate more efficient trade and identify pinch points that act as brakes in addressing these structural concerns. There are many ways forward for Bangladesh to promote more sustainable trade practices and, as this chapter will conclude, this will involve a concerted effort towards capacity building that is supported by institutional reforms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBangladesh and international law
EditorsMohammad Shahabuddin
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781003107958
ISBN (Print)9780367618582
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Contemporary South Asia Series


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