Food Items Imported in Bangladesh: What Comes from Which Country?

After India recently stopped exporting onions to Bangladesh, the price of onions in the country suddenly went up several times. Bangladesh has to import 40 percent of its annual onion demand, of which 95 percent comes from India.  

That is why if India stops exporting, the price in Bangladesh market will increase.

The same thing happens with sugar, wheat, corn, lentils, or spices from countries that stop exporting.

However, almost all of the annual demand for food grains and spices in Bangladesh is produced in the country. But apart from this, Bangladesh imports a large portion of food grains and other products.

These include rice, wheat, maize, onion, lentils, gram, soybean oil, sugar and various other daily necessities.

Pressure is mounting on India to lift the ban on onion exports

If we do those six things, Bangladesh will be self-sufficient in onions in six years

What is the business and government of Bangladesh to deal with the onion crisis?

Top countries in imports

According to the Central Bank's calculations, Bangladesh imported goods worth more than Tk 4.36 trillion in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

One-fifth of the imported goods are daily necessities.

The highest imports are from China, accounting for more than 26 percent of total imports. India is next on the list, accounting for about 15 per cent of total imports.

It is followed by Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, the United States, Malaysia, Brazil, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

According to the latest data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the top ten food items imported in July included unrefined sugar, palm oil, soybean oil, milk and dairy products, ginger, chilli, wheat, rice, lentils and onions.

Also garlic, tea, oilseeds and turmeric are among the top food items imported.

According to the central bank's 2018-19 financial year, edible oil imports were worth Tk 14,432 crore, wheat Tk 9,642 crore, rice Tk 1,044 crore, oilseeds Tk 5,492 crore, sugar Tk 5,432 crore, and Tk 3,000. Pulses worth Tk 458 crore have been imported.

Bangladesh also imports various spices including maize, dried vegetables, apples and citrus fruits and saffron and turmeric.

What comes from which country?

Sugar, soybean oil, onion, lentil pulses, gram, dates and a number of other commodities are imported under the Government Corporation Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

Apart from this, food grains like rice, wheat and maize are imported through GTZ, meaning the agreement of the government of Bangladesh with the government of the country concerned, and by individual initiative.


Bangladesh imports most of its imports from China.

Major import products include soybean oil and palm oil, and wheat.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, goods worth Tk 6,859 crore were imported from China in July this year.


According to the central bank, Bangladesh is the second largest importer of goods from India.

The food products imported from the country include onion, milk and dairy products, sunflower and soybean oil, edible oil, sugar, honey, soft drinks, chips, biscuits, chocolate and candy.

Bangladesh has to import 40 per cent of its annual onion demand, of which 95 per cent comes from India.


Bangladesh, the ninth largest economy in the world, imports wheat, sugar, meat and a variety of dried fruits and spices from Bangladesh.


Indonesia is a major source of palm oil imports from Bangladesh, about 75% of the country's palm oil comes from this country. Also fragrant rice and spices are brought from Indonesia.

Why import dependence can not be reduced?

Saima Haque, a professor in the Department of Economics at Dhaka University, thinks the government's annual production target is not set according to domestic demand.

As a result, even after production in the country every year, a part of the essential food grains like rice has to be imported.

"In this case, the government needs to be prepared in advance, increase the research and investment by calculating the demand for each foodgrain if necessary. At the same time, the government needs to make long-term plans to reduce import dependence."

Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue, a research organization, also spoke about the government's long-term plans to reduce import dependence.

However, in some cases, we have to accept the exceptions and move forward. In this case, he gave the example of China.

"Bangladesh's trade deficit with China is about হাজার 13,000 million. It will not be possible to balance China's trade with Bangladesh soon. But if we can increase exports keeping in mind China's needs, the trade deficit will decrease."

 Source: BBC Bangla

*She works in BBC Bangla


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