Push for duty cut, not free access | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, October 20, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, October 20, 2009

Push for duty cut, not free access

US trade envoy says in recommendation for Bangladesh exports

Bangladesh should push for duty reduction and preference programme rather than demanding duty-free access of its products to US market, said Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Central and South Asia Michael J Delaney yesterday.
The third option for Bangladesh is to continue negotiation for signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US for getting bilateral trade advantages, he said.
"But, it (FTA) is highly theoretical and it may not be possible for Bangladesh right at this moment," Delaney said at the monthly luncheon meeting of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Bangladesh at Dhaka Sheraton hotel.
So Bangladesh should continue dialogue with the US for duty reduction and preference programme to enjoy low duty in the US market, he said.
"The present preference programme of the US government will expire at the end of this year. But, the government will continue such programme in a modified form," Delaney said. Under the preference programme, the duty is very low in the US market, he added.
Delaney also said the right policy environment could improve trade and investment between the two countries. One mechanism that can help create this environment is a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement or Tifa, he said.
Tifa can yield many direct benefits, he said, adding that a US-Bangladesh Tifa would serve as a forum for government and business representatives from the two nations to discuss economic issues of mutual interests.
Its (Tifa) objectives include improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment, he added.
He said the US has already signed Tifa with more than 30 trading partners, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, a group of Central Asian nations and Asean. "We would like Bangladesh to be our next Tifa partner," he said.
Delaney said: "Tifa can be a stepping stone to future trade agreements between our nations, but at its heart Tifa is simply an agreement in which both sides agree to meet regularly and explore opportunities to expand economic relations."
The visiting USTR official said the US embassy and USTR office look forward to further talks and ultimately signing an agreement with Bangladesh.
He said in addition to Tifa, Bangladesh can increase its exports to US immediately by utilising the generalised system of preference (GSP) as it has been allowing the country to export certain goods to US with low or no duty since 2006.
Despite the fact that Bangladesh could export 4,800 different products with little or no duty under GSP, Bangladesh only exported 330 GSP-eligible products to the US in 2008. These products represented $21.6 million in exports, or only 0.6 percent of all Bangladesh exports to the US in 2008.
The export amount under the GSP is very low, Delaney said, adding that Bangladesh can ship china and kitchenware in increased volume to the US under duty-free facility.
"Bangladesh already exports china to the US, but I would argue that, given the strength of this sector here, Bangladesh should actively seek new buyers for its china and increase exports in this area," he said.
He said USTR is currently reviewing Bangladesh's progress on labour issues following the submission of a petition by the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations to suspend Bangladesh's GSP benefits. "I am delighted by the progress Bangladesh has made in addressing the concerns outlined in the petition," Delaney said.
US-Bangladesh bilateral trade exceeded $4 billion last year and the US exported cotton, yarn, fabric, machinery and food grain worth $468 million to Bangladesh, he said.
AmCham President Aftab Ul Islam moderated the meeting where businessmen from home and abroad, entrepreneurs and diplomats were present.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News