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11th-Sep-2018

4th round TICFA meet amid discord in bilateral ties

By

Special Correspondent  :
A government trade delegation left for the USA on Monday night to attend the fourth round of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) Council meeting to be held on September 13 in Washington. The meeting is going to be held at a time when several issues, including suspension  of GSP facilities and labour rights in local garment sector, have created discord in the Bangladesh-US bilateral relations.
Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose will lead Bangladesh side in the meeting while the US side will be led by assistant US Trade representative for South and Central Asian Affairs Mark Linscott.
"The issues of mutual economic cooperation and engagement covered under the TICFA deal will be focus on discussion," Shubhashish Bose told The New Nation before departing Dhaka.  He said the Bangladesh side will raise the issue of market access of local products in the US market, export tariff reforms, US investment in local economic zones, technology transfer and trade related capacity building and the TFA (Trade Facilitation Agreement) implementation assistance.
Bangladeshi exporters are the highest tariff payers among the 232 exporting nations to the US as the North American country has imposed substantial import taxes on apparel and footwear. It exported goods worth $6.0 billion in the US market in the past fiscal year (2017-18) and ready-made garments, footwear and headgear covered 95 per cent of the total export goods. The US imposed an average 15.2 per cent duty and tariff of the value of all Bangladeshi shipments.
Shubhashish Bose said that Bangladesh side would raise the issue of tariff rationalization of Bangladeshi and ethical buying practice by American buyers at the meeting considering the latest development in local garment industry.
The cumulative US investment in Bangladesh reached US$ 3.3 billion in 2017.
The US side imposed interest on market access and investment issues, customs and supplementary duties, double fumigation requirement for US Cotton, WTO issues and labour update.      
Bangladesh and USA signed the TICFA agreement on 25 November 2013. The first TICFA Council meeting was held in April 2014 in Dhaka, the second in November 2015 in Washington and the third in May 2017 in Dhaka.