The Financial Express

6th TICFA meet in December

Dhaka to request Washington to restore GSP

| Updated: November 28, 2022 13:03:38

Dhaka to request Washington to restore GSP

Dhaka would request Washington to restore the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for widening the market access of its products to the US - the single-largest export destination for Bangladesh.

The 6th meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA), which is scheduled to be held in Washington on December 06, aims to expand trade, commerce and investment between the two countries, official sources said.

In the meeting, Dhaka would place some proposals, including preferential market access of Bangladeshi products, simplified procedure for pharmaceutical product registration, tariff reduction for its RMG products and production sharing of cotton based apparel items, they added.

Besides, Bangladesh is expected to place a proposal at the bilateral meeting seeking support for building quality certification infrastructure.

On the other hand, the Washington side is expected to push for relaxing the provision for fumigation test of cotton from the USA at the port of entry, the sources mentioned.

Currently, Bangladesh is considering lifting the double fumigation test in importing the US cotton, a source said. It is the only country that imposes fumigation requirements for American cotton at the port of entry.

The USA will place the Bangladeshi labour issues, including labour rights in EPZs, child labour and forced labour, freedom of association and collective bargaining, and safe and healthy working environment, especially in export-oriented industries. It is supposed to propose some issues, including intellectual property, investment in Bangladesh, tree nut tariffs (walnuts, almonds), agricultural biotechnology and seed Act provisions.

Besides, a draft data protection act and the draft regulation for digital, social media and OTT platforms are likely to be placed in the meeting by the US side.

Bangladesh has taken necessary preparations to convince its US counterpart to provide the GSP benefit again, a senior official said.

A high-powered delegation, led by Senior Secretary of the commerce ministry Tapan Kanti Ghosh, will leave Dhaka on December 04 next for Washington, he added. Dhaka will present the progress made over the labour rights issues and workplace safety in the upcoming meeting, he added.

Bangladesh has already made significant improvements in labour rights, workplace safety, etc. through the implementation of the 16-point plan of actions prescribed by the US Trade Representative (USTR).

In June 2013, the US suspended the GSP for Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza building collapse.

The TICFA was signed between the two countries on November 25, 2013. Since then, five meetings have so far been held. Of them, three were held in Dhaka and two in Washington.

Additional Secretary (trade support measures wing) Md Hafizur Rahman on Sunday at his secretariat office said, "Dhaka would place some proposals, including restoring the GSP facility in the US market for Bangladeshi products, in the upcoming TICFA meeting."

In different bilateral talks, meetings and partnership dialogues since 2015, Bangladesh has been urging the US to reinstate the GSP. In 2018, Dhaka formally requested Washington to restore the trade benefit.

Dhaka is also expected to urge Washington to extend the existing trade benefits Bangladesh now enjoys as the LDC, even after the country's graduation to a developing country.

Currently, the US is the single largest export destination for Bangladeshi products with earnings worth over US$10 billion only from apparel items.

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