• In order to fulfill consumer demands not covered by aid, and to generate livelihood for a small section of the population, informal markets have emerged in the camps of Cox’s Bazar since 2017. The markets are spaces for commerce as well as for economic and social interaction between Rohingya refugees and residents of the host communities situated adjacent to the camps.
• While most products sold in the camp markets are Bangladeshi in origin, Myanmar products are also widely available, evidence of ongoing cross-border trade and refugees’ preference for these goods. Camp residents frequent the markets to purchase goods not provided as humanitarian aid.
• More Bangladeshi middlepersons have entered the supply chain since the camp markets mushroomed in 2017, which over time has eaten away at Rohingya shopkeepers’ profits and sometimes causes prices to increase. Refugees’ ability to purchase consumer products has declined as people’s savings have dwindled and opportunities to earn money inside the camps are scarce.
• Markets are a space for inter-communal interaction between Rohingya and host community residents, and marketplaces can provide mutual economic benefit for members of both communities. But there are few protections in place to prevent exploitation, extortion, and other forms of corruption. Financial risks are high for Rohingya entrepreneurs, who contend with high rents and minimal profit margins.