Wider US market access, GSP facility to get priority

Ticfa meet in city on April 28

24 April 2014 Kazi Zahidul Hasan

Bangladesh will place the issue of wider market access of its products to the US market at the first Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) meeting between Dhaka and Washington to be held in the city on April 28, a senior government official said Wednesday.
On November 25, last year, acting Deputy United States Trade Representative Wendy Cutler and Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed signed the Ticfa in Washington on behalf of their respective sides.
 "The issue of duty-free market access of all Bangladeshi products including garments to US market will get special focus from local side at the meeting along with restoration of GSP facility in the US market," Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told The New Nation yesterday.
He said that apart from this, the whole range of bilateral trade and investment promotion issues would be discussed with our counterpart at the Ticfa meeting.
The Commerce Secretary, who will lead the meeting from the local side, also said that Bangladesh has already prepared the agenda for the Ticfa meeting after consultation with the concerned ministries and stakeholders.
According to in US Embassy in Dhaka, a high-level delegation led by Assistant US Trade Representative Michael Delaney will arrive here on April 26 to attend the maiden Ticfa meeting between Bangladesh and the USA.    
When asked, Mahbub Ahmed refused to disclose the issues which the US side would raise at the meeting.
 "We cannot disclose the issues prior the meeting considering their sensitivity," he added.         
Mahbub Ahmed further said, Bangladesh would also push the US side for getting back GSP facility as the government has already fulfilled most of the conditions of the Action plan outlined by the US government.
Bangladesh last year exported goods worth $5.5 billion to the USA, of which, $30 million got GSP facility.
Sources close to the commerce ministry said, the US side would consult on a wide range of issues related to bilateral trade, investment and environment protection, enforcement of intellectual property rights, labour rights, currency and delayed payment issues at the meeting.
Officials said, Bangladesh, as an LDC, is the beneficiary of US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Programme. Even though the US GSP programme cover many products and thus benefits many developing countries, it unfortunately does not help Bangladesh much as it mostly exports apparel items in USA and apparel.
 "Suspension of GSP facility will not negatively impact on the country's overall export to the US as 86 per cent of the exports to the US consist of garments," said Subhashish Basu, Vice-Chairman of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), adding, "Bangladesh's apparels do not get GSP facility in the US market." Basu said the export volume would not be decreased, as items that enjoyed the facility, were capable of competing in the global market.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh's export to the US market remained stable and continued to soar despite the US decision to revoke Bangladesh's preferential trading status by the North American country.  Industry insiders that said the decision, however, impacted a little on multi-billion dollar ready-made garment (RMG) export to the US market although the US was yet to provide market access of local garments in US market.
The country's garment export to the US rose 7.61 per cent to reach $3.42 billion during July-February period of the current fiscal compared to $3.18 billion during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, according to the latest figure of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
Of the total export value, the EPB data shows, woven garments export to the US market amounted to $2.63 billion and knit garments $792 million during the period under review.    

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