No pressure from US to sign TICFA | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 07, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 07, 2013

No pressure from US to sign TICFA

GM Quader says at the launch of garment expo in Ctg

The US government is not putting any pressure on Bangladesh to sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA), Commerce Minister GM Quader said in Chittagong yesterday.
There is nothing in the deal against the interest of Bangladesh, he said, adding that the country would be benefited from it.
He spoke at the inauguration of the 11th Chittagong Apparel Fabric and Accessories Exposition (CAFAXPO)-2013 organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at MA Aziz Stadium in the port city.
After the kidnap of worker leader Aminul and the Tazreen fire, the US plans to review the generalised system of preference (GSP) for Bangladesh's exports to the US, he said. The labour unions in the US are putting pressure on the US government to withdraw the facility, he added.
“We did not sign TICFA over disagreement of fulfilling higher labour standards set by the US. If we sign TICFA, we will be able to bargain strongly in the upcoming hearing with the United States Trade Representative over the GSP review process next month.”The decision of the US to withdraw the facility will not affect Bangladesh's economy now, but it would affect in the long run if other countries, like Canada and the European Union who also provide this facility to Bangladesh, follow the US, the minister said.
The withdrawal of GSP will leave a negative impact on the image of the country, Quader said. But the garment sector, which accounts for almost 80 percent of Bangladesh's exports, will be affected greatly, he said.
When Bangladesh's garment sector is progressing rapidly and is trying to grasp some portions of China's market, the issue of reviewing GSP will make the way tough for the country, Quader said.
“The matter should not to be taken lightly.”
He urged the owners of garment factories to improve their factory condition and fulfil the compliance for the sake of the sector.
The factories should be labour-friendly, he said and urged the BGMEA to take more initiatives for the welfare of the workers.
Ghulam Hossain, chairman of the National Board of Revenue, urged the government to make a work-plan to submit and argue to retain the GSP in the upcoming hearing with the USTR.
BGMEA First Vice-president Nasir Uddin Chowdhury highlighted the initiatives taken by the trade body for garment workers.
Chowdhury said BGMEA has taken a crash programme to monitor and fulfil the fire-safety compliance in every factory.
BGMEA stood by the families of fire victims in Tazreen Fashions and is also working to ensure workers' safety, said the trade body President Shafiul Islam.

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