US-Bangla officials to talk investment, trade tomorrow | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:41 AM, September 29, 2020

US-Bangla officials to talk investment, trade tomorrow

Due to its strong consumer base, Bangladesh is considered a major investment and trading destination for many US companies, some of which are interested to invest in a few key sectors such as agro-processing and pharmaceuticals, according to a senior official of the US embassy in Dhaka.

Besides, representatives of the US and Bangladesh are set to hold a high-level meeting tomorrow to discuss investment and trade related issues, the official said on condition of anonymity while sharing his views on the matter at the American Centre in Dhaka.

For Bangladesh to regain its trade privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), it will have to apply to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) once the US congress adopts a new GSP scheme either at the end of this year or early next year, the official added.

The existing GSP facility has been suspended for all countries as its tenure is set to come to an end this year.

The USTR, the chief trade negotiator for the US government, suspended Bangladesh's GSP status after the nation's deadliest industrial accident -- the collapse of Rana Plaza building in June 2013 -- citing poor workplace safety and labour rights in the country.

The USTR had also outlined 16 conditions to be improved upon by both the government and private sector in order for the country to regain its GSP status.

Since then, Bangladesh has fulfilled all the required conditions and even applied to the USTR twice for the reinstatement of the status.

However, the USTR continues to say that more improvements need to be made, especially in terms of labour rights and unionisation in the garment sector.

During the discussion to be held tomorrow, officials from the US and Bangladesh will discuss how to improve their economic ties, especially amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Bangladesh has already emerged as a leading exporter of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the US as some local garment manufacturers have been exploiting the market potential of this segment, the official said.

The US government considered Bangladesh as an important partner under its flagship Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) as well, he added.

Under the IPS, the US plans to invest trillions of dollars to improve the region's infrastructure.

According to the official, the US also wants more trade talk platforms with Bangladesh apart from the existing Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA), which was signed in November 2013. 

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