CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Bangladesh"

Bangladesh: Capitalist Haven

by Alyssa Ayres
Dhaka, April 2014. Photo by Sharada Prasad CS licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original. Dhaka, April 2014. Photo by Sharada Prasad CS licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released the second of two major reports detailing findings from a global public opinion survey on economic issues conducted last spring in forty-four countries. Read together, the two reports reveal something you might not have guessed: Bangladesh is among the countries most supportive of the free market, and certainly the most free-market, trade-oriented country surveyed in South Asia. At least as far as public opinion is concerned, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a capitalist haven. Read more »

Bangladesh: Behemoth Garment Industry Weathers the Storm

by Alyssa Ayres
Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka January 3, 2014 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters) Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka on January 3, 2014 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to participate in an excellent conference focused on Bangladesh, its development, and its garment industry hosted by Harvard University. The organizers did a tremendous job convening the many diverse stakeholders on this issue—the Bangladeshi garment exporters associations, representatives from the Bangladeshi and U.S. governments, representatives from major buyers and retailers, fashion industry associations, labor rights advocates, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and scholars examining developments in global retail and labor. The background to the gathering, obviously, was last year’s tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka on April 24, 2013, which killed more than 1,100 and left more than 2,500 injured. Read more »

A Guide to the Rana Plaza Tragedy, and its Implications, in Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
Rana Plaza Tragedy Rescue workers attempt to rescue garment workers from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, nineteen miles outside Dhaka on April 29, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

One year ago today, April 24, the world watched with horror as a concrete building known as “Rana Plaza” cracked, buckled, and ultimately collapsed atop the garment workers inside its factories. It would turn out to be the worst accident in the garment industry anywhere. More than 1,100 people were killed, and 2,500 injured. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 14, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
kerry_in_beijing U.S. secretary of state John Kerry meets with Chinese premier Li Keqiang at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing on February 14, 2014. (Evan Vucci/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Secretary Kerry visits South Korea, China, and Indonesia on Asia tour. U.S. secretary of state John Kerry’s trip marks his fifth to Asia during his first year in office. In Seoul, he met with South Korean president Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to discuss the South’s relations with North Korea, including efforts to facilitate reunions between family members on the divided peninsula. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 10, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a media conference in Dhaka on January 6, 2014. (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters) Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a media conference in Dhaka on January 6, 2014. (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Bangladesh’s governing party wins vote despite unrest. Bangladesh’s Awami League won 232 of 300 seats in the country’s new Parliament, with nearly half of the seats uncontested due to a boycott from the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), which labeled the election a sham. The government declared the average turnout to be 39.8 percent, though the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, said that the turnout was closer to 10 percent. Twenty-two protesters were killed on Sunday, and seven were killed on Monday; the government also arrested seven high-ranking BNP leaders this week, including a close aide to Zia. The government has also demanded that the BNP cut ties with the banned Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami. Read more »

No Winners in Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
People look at burnt textbooks after a primary school which was supposed to be used as a polling booth was set on fire, in Feni January 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). People look at burnt textbooks after a primary school which was supposed to be used as a polling booth was set on fire, in Feni. Nearly 60 polling stations in Bangladesh were set on fire and three people were killed on the eve of Sunday's election January 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

I’ve been an optimist about Bangladesh for some time now—its national development miracle, amazing social entrepreneurs, strong civil society and women-led microfinance, 160 million-strong brand of moderate Islam, and consistent economic growth. Just a few years ago Goldman Sachs put this hardworking, against-all-odds country on their list of Asia’s “Next 11” ready for takeoff. But after Sunday’s election—and I write this with a heavy heart—I’m deeply worried. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 3, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
cambodia-protest-police-clash A garment worker holds rocks as police officers stand with assault rifles in the background after clashes broke out during a protest in Phnom Penh on January 3, 2014. (Samrang Pring/Courtesy: Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Cambodian police fire on garment protesters, killing at least three. Police fired on garment workers and their supporters as they protested for higher wages on Friday. A spokesman for Phnom Penh’s police department said that three were killed and two wounded, while the United National special rapporteur to Cambodia claimed four were killed and dozens injured. Tensions began when police cracked down on a small demonstration outside a South Korean-owned factory on Thursday. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 13, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters) South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. North Korea announces execution of top official. The Korean Central News Agency announced yesterday the execution of Jang Song-taek, a top North Korean official and uncle of leader Kim Jong-un. The announcement follows Jang’s highly publicized arrest, which was unprecedented in North Korea; at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, Jang was charged with “anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts” against the “unity and cohesion of the party.” Read more »

When Protests Halt Progress

by Alyssa Ayres
Smoke rises as a bus burns on a street after a nationwide strike was called, in Dhaka November 9, 2013 (Mahmud Opu/Courtesy Reuters). Smoke rises as a bus burns on a street after a nationwide strike was called, in Dhaka November 9, 2013 (Mahmud Opu/Courtesy Reuters).

If I were to describe a country that has achieved around 6 percent economic growth for much of the last decade, has the eighth largest population in the world, has delivered maternal and child health improvements on a scale comparable to the great Meiji restoration of 19th century Japan, is the world’s second largest exporter of ready-made garments after only China, and has achieved a 94 percent infant immunization rate, what place would come to mind? As much as it pains me to write this, I don’t believe the average Western reader would blurt out “Bangladesh, of course” after hearing that roster of accomplishments, as true as they are. Read more »

Prosperity and Politics

by Alyssa Ayres
Primary school students march by the bank of the river Buriganga during an event in support of education, organised by Campaign for Popular Education Bangladesh, in Dhaka April 23, 2007 Primary school students march by the bank of the river Buriganga during an event in support of education, organised by Campaign for Popular Education Bangladesh, in Dhaka April 23, 2007 (Rafiqur Rahman/Courtesy Reuters).

Two seemingly unrelated items caught my eye this week: one, the release of the new Legatum Prosperity Index, and the other, the release in Bangladesh of a transcript detailing an important and much-anticipated phone conversation between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. Read more »