Agents and Distributors:

The main channel for selling goods in Bangladesh is through a local agent, i.e., an agent, wholesaler or distributor. If authorized, companies may use their local agents to service industrial consumers and bid on government contracts.

More than half of Bangladesh's imports are made through tender or direct purchase by public sector corporations, government controlled corporations, and autonomous bodies. These organizations prefer to deal with local firms acting as exclusive agents or distributors of foreign manufacturers and suppliers. Foreign firms should consider hiring an exclusive agent/distributor to monitor these projects.

Agent-principle agreements may be either exclusive or non-exclusive. Non-exclusive arrangements are common for commodities where brand names are not important.

Import Restrictions:

The government has moved to reduce the number of items on its list of banned imports and has eliminated the need for import licenses. However, some products are still banned from importation, including certain maps, obscene materials, socially or religiously offensive items, all types of wastes, and substandard or rejected goods, as well as all imports from South Africa or Israel.

All commercial importers are issued pass books in which their import authorizations are validated. The issuance of a pass book is a formality for items not on the controlled or restricted lists. Pass books are valid for 12 months.

Import Duties:

Despite some recent reductions, tariffs in Bangladesh remain high, averaging over 50 percent. At the recommendation of the World Bank, Bangladesh has placed a 100 percent tariff ceiling on most goods, with the intention of bringing the ceiling down to 60 percent in fiscal year 1993-94. A value-added tax (VAT) of 10 to 20 percent and additional fees, typically adding up to 15 percent of the cost and freight value, are also applied to imports.

Duties are reduced to 2.5 percent for installation of imported machinery in less developed areas. Duties are also reduced to 2.5 percent for capital machinery and factories which use 70 percent or more indigenous materials and for imported machinery for export-oriented industries. Exemptions from duties and the import sales tax are available for a variety of goods.


Documentation required for commercial shipments to Bangladesh include a commercial invoice, bill of lading or air waybill, an insurance certificate that must be underwritten by the Sadaran Bima Corporation or any Bangladesh insurance company, and pro forma invoice. A certificate of origin may be requested.