The industrial sector produces around 10 percent of GDP, and long-term national strategies in the late 1980s did not anticipate a major increase in that percentage. The greatest need and the greatest opportunities remained predominantly in the agricultural sector.
Eastern Bengal was known for its fine muslin and silk fabric before the British period. The dyes, yarn, and cloth were the envy of much of the premodern world. Bengali muslin, silk, and brocade were worn by the aristocracy of Asia and Europe. The introduction of machine-made textiles from England in the late eighteenth century spelled doom for the costly and time-consuming handloom process. Cotton growing died out in East Bengal, and the textile industry became dependent on imported yarn. Those who had earned their living in the textile industry were forced to rely more completely on farming. Only the smallest vestiges of a once-thriving cottage industry survived.
At independence Bangladesh was one of the least industrially developed of the populous nations. Annual per capita consumption of steel and cement was only about one-third that of India, for example, and electric power consumption per capita was less than one-fifth.
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