Bangladesh to press duty-free access for garment to US
Bangladesh will once again ask for duty- and quota-free access to developed countries at the upcoming World Trade Organisation ministerial conference.
Pascal Lamy, director general of WTO, has already called for proposals from the least-developed countries for consideration at the summit, the ninth of its kind, to be held in Bali, Indonesia, on December 3-6.
“Our officials are now preparing the papers to be sent to the WTO soon,” Mahbub Ahmed, commerce secretary, said yesterday.
The country will call for relaxation of the rules of origin, while giving a reminder to the developed countries to follow through on the promises made in previous conferences about extending preferential treatment to the LDCs, Ahmed said.
“I do not want to mention the names of the countries which announced duty-free access for Bangladeshi items many years ago, but are yet to implement them,” the commerce secretary said.
The duty-free entry of garment items from Bangladesh has been a long-standing demand, which Mahbub says the government will once again ask for, particularly from the US, the single largest export destination of the country's garment products.
Currently, 97 percent of the products originating from Bangladesh enjoy duty-free access to the US, but garment, the country's main export item, is excluded from the package.
Bangladeshi garment exports, as a result, are struck with a 12.3 percent duty upon entry to the US market. In contrast, the same items from China, a developed country, are met with a mere 3 percent duty.
In 2011, Bangladesh paid $746 million in duty for exporting about $5 billion of garment items.