By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan
Football World Cup fever is ablaze on the planet. Aside from the Russia-Ukraine war, the global economic downturn, inflation, etc, everyone in the globe is gripped by football mania.
The World Cup frenzy has spread across the Arabian Sea to the neighbourhoods of Aligli, Bangladesh. Argentina and Brazil are everywhere, from the tea shop in our Naim alley to the giant screen at TSC. At midnight, they would emerge in bunches after waking up insane. Bengalis with strong emotions were present for this worldwide celebration and mourning.
From time to time, this intense enthusiasm is changing into melancholy. While flying the Argentine flag, Deepen Tripura of Khagrachari and Tanveer Hasan of Safipur both perished from electrocution. Chuck Culpeper, a well-known sports journalist, wrote an article titled “In Bangladesh, the Argentina-Brazil soccer rivalry is a peculiar “frenzy”” in “The Washington Post” on Bengalis’ penchant for placing life-threatening bets. Nawab Mia, the uncle of Rezaul, a fan of Brazil, fractured Jeevan Mia and his team’s nose at Brahmanbaria. A report criticizing this insensitive attitude was published in the Argentine newspaper, “Buenos Aires Times.”
While the World Cup is fun for football fans, it also provides the organizers with a large commercial opportunity and a way to sway geopolitics. While Messi represents artistic art to us, in the Spanish economy he represents a portion of the GDP. Messi has a roughly 1.4 percent impact on Spain’s GDP, according to data released by La Liga president Javier Tebas: 180,000 more employment were created in Spain as a result of Messi’s arrival.
Various Reuters reports state that Qatar has spent roughly $4,229 billion on stadiums, infrastructure, security, and other World Cup-related expenses. While just 16 billion and 19.7 billion dollars, respectively, were invested by Russia and Brazil in the World Cups of 2018 and 2014, respectively.
Qatar is making extravagant purchases at a time when global inflation is out of control and the Great Recession is approaching. Naturally, the effects of the dollar crisis and inflation have also been felt in Bangladesh’s public life. The import and export industries are tense. The forward-thinking government is putting several strategies into place to cut costs. And at that exact moment, our fervent football supporters are screaming at the top of their lungs for the far-off nations of Brazil and Argentina, smashing other people’s skulls in the process.
Upon seeing this, our curiosity about Argentina and Brazil grows. The depth and breadth of Bangladesh’s economic and commercial ties to the two nations would be helpful to me. To shine a light on a tiny scale and understand the full scope of economic and commercial interactions, however, is not only challenging but also nearly impossible.
As observers, we would want to observe the economic chemistry between Brazil, Argentina, and Qatar.
Qatar is the most advanced of the four named nations, largely because of their high GDP per capita. The small population has an impact on the country’s high GDP per capita share compared to the other three.
Bangladesh cannot yet be compared to the other three nations, but Bangladesh is improving in terms of export profits under the direction of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, and new opportunities are emerging – firstly, surpassed the $50 billion milestone. Bangladesh’s primary exports are surplus garments to Europe and America.
Bangladesh’s export market is quite modest in comparison to Argentina. In the most recent fiscal year, Argentina exclusively exported knitwear, woven clothing, toys, etc., for 9.518 million dollars.
Brazil is Bangladesh’s largest export market, outpacing Argentina by a factor of 11.47. Brazil exported goods worth 109.202 million dollars in the previous fiscal year, including clothing, tobacco, plastic and rubber products, handicrafts, sports jerseys, medications, medical equipment, steel automotive components, etc. Numerous garment products, as well as potatoes, rice, tomatoes, and other items, were exported from Bangladesh to Qatar last year for a total of 42.298 million dollars.
The cost of imports is rising even if export revenue is increasing. During the fiscal year 2021–2022, import expenses totalled 75 billion 604.4 million dollars and export revenues totalled 52 billion 82.658 million dollars.
Brazil is ranked eighth among the importers, and Qatar is ranked ninth. The amount of our trade imbalance with Brazil is around $2,136,000,000. Last year, $2,455 million worth of food products such as oilseeds, grains and sugar, cotton, coffee, tobacco, etc. were imported from Brazil. Bangladesh imports 2.9 percent of its total goods from Qatar, and we have a $2,135 million trade deficit with them.
In the free trade era, nearly all nations in the globe are directly or indirectly participating in a country’s trade. On the other hand, the strength of the two nations’ political and financial ties determines how extensive their economic ties will be. We must look to the economic relations division within the ministry of finance to learn the answer to the question of how extensive the extent of our commercial interactions with the three countries under discussion.
Since gaining independence until June 30, 2021, Bangladesh has received a total of about 101.3 trillion 673 billion dollars in financial assistance, according to the publication “Flow of External Resources into Bangladesh 2020-2021, Golden Jubilee Special Edition” by the department of economic relations. Which included 72.8 trillion 484 billion in loans and 28.519 trillion as grants.
Despite the flags of Argentina and Brazil flying in our skies, we have no economic cooperation or bilateral development with either country. With regard to bilateral loan-grant programs or food aid, Bangladesh has not established any official economic ties with the three nations. The three nations are viewed as possible partners for future development in a number of department of economic relations publications.
Although there is no connection to development cooperation, Qatar is one of the three countries mentioned that contributes the most to the economy of Bangladesh through remittances. The foreign currency obtained through remittances is utilized to close the trade deficit brought on by low export revenues compared to high import expenditure.
Remittances are helping the economy advance. In the fiscal year 2021–2022, the Bangladesh Bank reported that a total of 1 billion 346.47 million dollars – or 6.40 percent of all remittances – came from Qatar out of the 21 billion 31.68 million dollars received. Bangladesh was the sixth recipient of remittances to Qatar, while Bangladesh was the seventh recipient of remittances, according to the report “Migration and Development Brief 37” issued by the World Bank in 2021. Small remittances were also being sent to Bangladesh at this time from Brazil and Argentina.
They are all our friends nations in the global arena, regardless of what occurs on the playing field. For the sake of the foreign policy treasured by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s “friendliness with all, hatred with none,” Argentina, Brazil, and Qatar are all our friendly nations. Argentine intellectuals published a declaration supporting Bangladesh in our great liberation fight in 1971 and staged different protests against the genocide on the initiative of Argentine writer-editor Vidushi Victoria Ocampo.
There are numerous instances of Brazil and Bangladesh supporting one another through a direct vote in international bodies like the UN. Even though Qatar’s economy is very tiny, we must import necessities like petroleum and fertilizer from Qatar. In these trying times, remittances from Qatar are a crucial part of keeping the economy humming.
In hard economic times, the Great Depression is feared by everyone. In the midst of the worldwide economic crisis caused by the Ebola pandemic, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has grown to be a new annoyance. With the visionary guidance and courageous actions of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is heroically navigating the current situation.
There is no purpose in breaking someone’s nose and chopping off one’s ear in such a hostile time when two nations hundreds of kilometres apart may battle over a match. Sports events should be pure entertainment. The only goal of watching the game is to appreciate aesthetic football and avoid needless interpersonal conflict.
Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan is a development worker and independent researcher in Dhaka, Bangladesh.