Bangladesh and the United States Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) Council held its fourth meeting to promote expanded bilateral trade and investment in goods and services.
During the meeting held in Washington DC on Thursday, Bangladesh asked the US for expanding market access for Bangladeshi goods to the American market, and increasing duty-free market facilities in light of WTO's Bali Ministerial decisions.
The US and Bangladesh exchanged views on mutual interest covered under the TICFA signed in November 2013, which provides a mechanism for both governments to discuss trade and investment issues and areas of cooperation.
Commerce Secretary of Bangladesh Shubhashish Bose and Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs Mark Linscott co-chaired the meeting.
At the meeting, Bangladesh side sought US cooperation for implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
Bangladesh also requested the US to facilitate access of Bangladeshi nurses and midwives, and easy access to other service sectors in the USA, according to a press release of Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC.
“The discussions focused on market access for US cotton, enabling a digital economy, transparency in government procurement, and labour reforms in Bangladesh,” said Office of the US Trade Representatives (USTR).
It said both governments pledged their commitment to deepen their engagement and grow their trade and economic ties.
“The United States particularly noted its concerns on overall labour reform and expressed its hope for ongoing collaboration with the private sector on workers' safety,” according to USTR press statement.
Bangladesh was suspended from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme in 2013, over concerns on workers' rights and safety.
According to the USTR, Bangladesh and the US had $7.2 billion (two-way) goods trade during 2017.
The Bangladesh embassy press release also said Bangladesh side sought more US investment in Bangladesh, highlighting various steps of the government in creating favorable investment climate.
Furthermore, it said Bangladesh sought cooperation from the USA trade preferences for Bangladeshi goods, fixing fair prices of Bangladeshi goods, technology transfer, trade-related capacity building, digital economy and sustainable graduation of Bangladesh as a developing country.
On the other hand, the US side discussed expansion of US export to Bangladesh, particularly cotton and medicine, protection of intellectual property, government procurement and labour issue. Besides, the US side requested the Bangladesh side to notify the WTO on Bangladesh's draft rules of E-Waste.
Other members of the 12-member Bangladesh delegation included Secretary to Ministry of Labour and Employment Afroza Khan, Executive Chairman of BEPZA Maj Gen Mohammad Habibur Rahman Khan and Bangladesh Investment Development Secretary Moinul Islam.
The 20-member US delegation included Deputy Assistant USTR for South & Central Asia Zeba Reyazuddin and Political/ Economic Counselor at US embassy in Dhaka Bill Moeller.
The meeting was informed that the US was single largest export market of Bangladesh. In 2017-18 fiscal, Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 5.98 billion to the USA while Bangladesh imported goods worth US$ about 1.70 billion, the embassy press release added.