Bangladesh should fight for GSP: Mozena
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena yesterday said Bangladesh should fight to win back trade privileges at the American market.
“If I were a Bangladeshi I would make powerful argument before the US Congress to restore GSP,” he said at a press meet organised by the Economic Reporters' Forum at the National Press Club.
But many things will depend on how Bangladesh transforms its apparel industry to a standard level, he said.
“You have to have a mechanism to deal with the problem. This is not rocket science -- this is very simple. You have experts here and money is available.”
Factories need to be inspected and legislations have to be implemented to regain Generalised Systems of Preferences, he said.
Yet, the ambassador said he is optimistic about the future of the Bangladesh's apparel industry.
“Good thing is that this transformation is happening in some places,” he said, adding that the government, buyers, brands, ILO, development partners and workers' unions have joined hands to bring about this transformation.
Mozena, who frequently travels to the country's remote areas, spoke on a wide array of issues, from power and infrastructure constraints to export tariff to the US market, education and export potential other than garments. He advised power-starved Bangladesh to strongly explore hydropower options, a cost-effective method, to meet its demands.
The zone involving Bhutan, Nepal, India's seven north-eastern states, is a fertile area for hydropower.
“Bangladesh is located in a region blessed with energy potentials,” he said, citing Bhutan's generation capacity of 30,000 megawatt and Nepal's 80,000 MW.
He also recommended exploring both on-shore and off-shore options for gas to meet the growing demand of businesses. Many factory owners cannot expand their business for want of gas, he added.
On the infrastructure constraint, the US envoy said he is surprised to see that the expansion of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway and the Chittagong Port are not finished yet. There should be an expressway between Dhaka and Chittagong, which will cut costs and make Bangladesh competitive.
The ambassador said Bangladesh has enormous potential to become the next Asian tiger and the world's largest exporter of apparel products.
The country can also be a major player in generic pharmaceuticals, shoes, finished leather goods, small freighters, software development, semi-conductor production, frozen shrimp and fish, bone china, silk and many more.
Bangladesh would be a welcoming home for foreign and domestic investment if the rule of law is improved, red tape is reduced, corruption is reined in and threats of political instability are minimised, he said.
He also urged Bangladesh to give priority to improving the quality of education to take the country to a new height.
Replying to a query on the delay of the US-based ConocoPhillips for hydrocarbon exploration in two deep sea blocks in the Bay of Bengal, the ambassador said: “If you sign a contract quoting a certain price, you should stick to that.” ERF President Sultan Mahmud and General Secretary Sajjadur Rahman also spoke.