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08 January 2021

Bangladesh needs hard negotiations in WTO to retain trade facilities

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IN their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the least developing countries (LDCs) have called for an extension of the existing trade preferences for an additional period of 12 years, starting from 1 July 2021, to implement the World Trade Organisation's trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) agreement. According to a media report on Thursday, the developed countries, are yet to support the LDCs in this regard.
Against this backdrop, economists and trade experts in the country have urged the government to intensify diplomatic efforts to gain supports, particularly from influential WTO member countries before the crucial meeting likely to be held in March next.  So, the support of member countries, especially the developed ones, will be critical to get the LDCs proposal passed in the next meeting.
Earlier, the LDCs, including Bangladesh, have urged for continuation of the support measures and other trade-related aspects under Article 16.1 of the TRIPS agreement for the 12-year extended period after their graduation to the developing country status. They also asked the chair of the TRIPS Council, Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter from South Africa, to keep the item on the agenda for further consultations
It is to be noted that Bangladesh is expecting to graduate from the LDC group by the 2024 and the country, according to the WTO rules, will lose various trade preferences which are now being enjoyed as a poor country.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh's permanent representatives in the WTO has urged the Foreign and Finance Ministries officials to play an active role to reach out to the delegations and blocs like the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland and Russia to pursue them in favour of the proposal.
In order to find a realistic solution, the LDCs, including Bangladesh, needs hard negotiations to respond to queries and criticisms likely to be raised by the preference providing countries.