Bangladesh would request the United States to invest in the special economic zones in Bangladesh but would not discuss the issue of generalised system of preferences (GSP) at the fourth round of meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement to be held in Washington on September 13.
Senior officials of the commerce ministry said that they were setting the agenda for the meeting and the issues including investment opportunities, market access of Bangladeshi products and implementation of trade facilitation agreement would get high priority.
‘We are working on the agenda for TICFA meeting but the GSP issue will not be on the list. We do not want to discuss GSP issue as Bangladesh is going to graduate from the least developed country to a developing one,’ Md Munir Chowdhury, director general of the WTO Cell under the commerce ministry, told New Age on Sunday.
Moreover, Bangladesh’s export to the US market was not hampering due to lack of GSP facility in the market, he claimed.
Munir said, ‘The government is going to set up 100 SEZs across the country and we will request the US to invest in the zones.’
He said that the commerce ministry had recently held a meeting with stakeholders and asked them to send proposals on the agenda for TICFA meeting to the ministry.
After getting proposals from the stakeholders the ministry would finalise the agenda, Munir said.
Another commerce ministry official said that trade and investment issue, market access of Bangladeshi products, custom and supplementary duty structure, labour issue, prices of Bangladeshi export products especially readymade garments would be discussed in the fourth round of TICFA meeting.
He also said that the market access of American pharmaceuticals and cotton in Bangladesh would be discussed from the US side.
According to the commerce ministry sources, Bangladesh would urge the US to give preferential market access of Bangladeshi products as per the 9th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation held in Bali of Indonesia.
Bangladesh would present at the meeting the progress it made on workplace safety and labour rights issues following the
Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013. The industrial disaster killed more than 1,100 people mostly garment workers.
By producing the progress Bangladesh would demand ensuring ethical buying practice from the US buyers, sources said.
The much-talked-about TICFA was signed between Bangladesh and the US on November 25, 2013.
The first round of TICFA meeting was held in Dhaka in April, 2014, the 2nd round in Washington in November, 2015 and the third round was held in Dhaka in May, 2017.