Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed urged all developed countries to give meaningful duty-free benefits to the least-developed countries, as committed in the Hong Kong Ministerial conference in 2005.
Some developed countries are not following the decisions of the Hong Kong ministerial meet and imposing duty on import of important items from the LDCs, he said at the second Geneva Dialogue on “the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda: The Road from Bali” on Friday.
The United National Conference on Trade and Development organised the seminar where ministers and policymakers from different countries discussed the development agenda from 2015.
Ahmed cited the case of Bangladesh's garment exports, its main item, to the US. It is subjected to 15.3 percent duty, whereas as per the commitment made in Hong Kong it should be duty-free.
In 2012, Bangladeshi garment exporters paid nearly $746 million as duty for exporting a little above $5 billion worth of garment products to the US.
“Unfortunately, LDCs are yet to receive the complete duty-free and quota-free market access from developed countries,” Ahmed said.
While some progress has been made in Bali, it will only be of significance when the expansion of product coverage is done in a way that ensures meaningful market access for all LDCs, he added.
Ahmed also called for making the services waiver clause for LDCs operational and in a substantial way such that Bangladesh can manage better market access for its less- and semi-skilled manpower.