BD seeks special tariff benefit in US market          

Bangladesh on Monday sought a preferential treatment on Bangladeshi products to the US market like Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean countries considering its extreme ‘vulnerability’ due to climate change.

Bangladesh also demanded duty- and quota-free access to the US market under ‘Bali Package’ as the US imposes high tariff on Bangladeshi products.

ticfa-usCommerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said this at a joint press conference after the first-ever meeting of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Dhaka and Washington at Sonargaon Hotel in the city, reports UNB.

Leader of the US delegation Assistant US Trade Representative for South Asia Michael J Delaney, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, US Ambassador Dan W Mozena and Foreign Ministry Director General (DG-America) Mahfuzur Rahman were also present.

The Commerce Secretary said the USA provides preferential treatment to some Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean countries as the US thinks those countries are more vulnerable than Bangladesh.

“Being a vulnerable country, we presented our logic, too. We told them that Bangladesh is very vulnerable due to climate change. We deserve similar benefits, and requested them to consider our vulnerability,” he said.

Bangladesh also explained that the country has a huge population and it needs a wider market access to its products, he added.

“We’ve reviewed bilateral trade and investment issues. Then we reviewed the GSP Action Plan…we discussed then issues of market access of goods and services in the US market,” said the Commerce Secretary.

He said the issues of US investment in Bangladesh, technology transfer, implementation of Bali Package were also discussed at the meeting.

“We also discussed labour affairs and women economic empowerment affairs raised by US side,” Mahbub Ahmed said.

Expressing satisfaction over the Ticfa meeting, US delegation chief Delaney characterised it as a very productive, pragmatic and a problem-solving oriented event.

“We discussed a wide range of trade and investment issues and ways to boost US Bangladesh trade and investment,” he said.

Delaney said they basically tried to look at where they are right now in terms of GSP Action Plan implementation and recommended that more works need to be done.

“This is a highly successful meeting. It’s a great start. We look forward to working together,” he said.

Asked why US imposes high tariff on Bangladeshi products compared to other competitors like China, Delaney said, “This is incorrect…both Bangladesh and China are offered the most favoured nation treatment (MFNT) under WTO tariff structure.”

He also said DFQF discussions are dealt in the context of World Trade Organization (WTO) and more specifically under the Doha Round, which is yet to be completed.

Asked how Bangladesh and the USA can move forward with increased trade and investment amid an uncomfortable political relation as Finance Minister AMA Muhith earlier mentioned, Delaney parried the question.

However, US diplomat Mozena, in response, said, “I see our relation with Bangladesh is becoming ever stronger, broader and deeper.”

He said concluding Ticfa was one of his dreams. “This dream came true today.”

The first Ticfa meeting was originally scheduled for April 7-8, but it was postponed as officials were not ready for that at that time.

On November 25, Bangladesh signed Ticfa with the US to remove trade barriers between the two countries.

Ticfa is a mechanism for dealing with specific trade and investment issues. The US-Bangladesh Ticfa seeks to further bolster annual two-way trade between the United States and Bangladesh, which exceeded $6 billion in 2013.