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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK
Bangladeshi PM warns on economy
Deputies are sworn in to the Bangladeshi parliament
Khaleda Zia (right) faces huge challenges
By the BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia, says the economic condition of the country is fragile and new strategies are needed to steer it out of its economic downturn.

Ms Zia said the previous government had mismanaged the economy and the situation has become worse following the 11 September attacks on United States.

The US is a key market for Bangladeshi products, generating almost 40% of the country's total income from exports.

Bangladeshi ready-made garments are the main items of export to the US.

But exporters say they have not received any substantial order from the US since 11 September.

They said many of the orders placed before the attacks on America had either been cancelled or suspended.

Job losses feared

Government statistics say export income has fallen by more than six per cent between July and August of this year as compared to the same period last year.

Bangladeshi fashion collection
Orders for clothing are down

The country's Commerce Minister, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, told the BBC that income from all the major export items had declined.

Leading trade associations and business leaders have expressed concern at the situation.

Workers engaged in the textile industry have also expressed fears of thousands of job losses.

Mr Chowdhury said many export factories might face closure if the recession in the United States and Europe continued for long.

He said the government's first priority was to protect local industries by providing financial support.

The Finance Minister, Saifur Rahman, had earlier raised concerns over the country's foreign exchange reserves which are estimated at a little over one billion dollars.

Analysts said this was barely enough to pay for six weeks of imports.

See also:

03 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh parliament boycott
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh Hindus seek protection
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