Nation branding is now a buzzword both in national and international front covering an extensive range of a country image including political, economic and cultural dimensions. It is an intangible asset comprising a country's vision, its drive, commitment and other distinctive features. Today, nation branding is no longer considered a limited representation of a country or place, but it covers aspects including best practices, good governance and ethics. Such branding has an impact on the acceptability of a country from diverse angles, which persuade the rest of the world to consume their products, enhance trade and business cooperation, attract potential tourists and significantly, bring in potential investors. Ultimately, nation brand contributes to a country's growth and development process.
London-based business valuation and strategy consultancy firm Brand Finance publishes a report every year on nations' brand value. The firm measures the nation brand with reference to performance on dozens of data points across three key pillars -- goods & services, investment, and society. These are divided into sub-pillars i.e., tourism, market, governance, and people & skills. Quality of life, the judicial system, government policy, security, trade rules, corruption level, doing business, taxations etc are also taken into consideration to measure the value.
The firm in October this year published Nations Brand Report 2018 comprising 100 countries where the USA is at the top and Honduras at the bottom with the brand value of US$ 25,899 billion and US$ 20 billion respectively.
In the report, Bangladesh has been ranked 39th with the nation brand valued at $257 billion, which is 24 per cent higher than that of the last year when the brand value was $208 billion. Bangladesh holds the second position in South Asia being put only after India. In terms of rating, the country has also maintained its upward trend. This year, it secured rating 'A' and last year it was 'A-' . Sri Lanka achieved `A+` rating - still the country lags behind Bangladesh in terms of ranking. In 2011, the country brand values of Bangladesh and Pakistan were valued at $54 billion and $47 billion respectively. At present, Bangladesh surpasses Pakistan by a greater value.
Bangladesh is considerably doing better in different international indices and reports. Very recently, Bangladesh has shown its progress in global hunger index and global competitiveness index in terms of score. Even in the recent report of HSBC Global Research, Bangladesh was the 26th largest economy in the global gross domestic product (GDP) rankings in 2030. This year, we have seen the biggest cross-border mergers and acquisition transactions worth $1.5 billion involving a Bangladeshi company and this deal has drawn global attention. We are also observing that the rest of the world is highly interested to invest in or do business with Bangladesh due to its regional proximity and competitive human resources. In the first half of the current year, the net foreign direct investment (FDI) flow into the country has marked an increase by around 44 per cent compared with that of the last year, whereas the global inflow of FDI has recorded a decline by 41 per cent in the same period.
Against this backdrop, we want to stay optimistic about the future. There have been some proactive moves in recent times to facilitate businesses which are expected to add to the country's scores. The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) would launch its One Stop Service (OSS) very soon and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has taken the initiative to open a new wing to provide its services to foreigners, which sounds to be a good option for hassle-free taxation.
In the new world order, where an economy is highly dependent on a knowledge-based digital ecosystem, a country needs to be more open and procedural matters of doing businesses need to be more simplified, which would be less human-centric. Those actions might bring benefits to all parties.
To keep the country's brand value in a rising trend, Bangladesh has to go a long way. The government along with private sector stakeholders should take a national strategy to enhance the country's overall image. Institutional capacity development both in government and private sectors should act as forefronts. Institutions, too, need to take proactive actions that may help build a better Bangladesh.
Altap Hossen is an adjunct faculty and economic analyst. email@example.com
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