Bangladesh-US co-op: Monitoring may begin in July
Bangladesh and the US will form a monitoring mechanism to address the challenges and pending issues as the two countries are working on deepening their ties on multiple fronts.
"He [the US ambassador to Bangladesh] proposed a monitoring mechanism on the dialogues that take place between the two countries and the pending issues and existing challenges.
"We may start it [the system] from July," Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said after a meeting with US Ambassador Peter Haas at the foreign ministry yesterday.
Momen said Bangladesh has such a mechanism with many countries, including with Japan and India. "I don't see any problem with that, in principle. It is important to check the progress of the dialogues from time to time."
Bangladesh and the US have been engaged in a number of dialogues, including for partnership, security, defence, high-level economics, etc.
The economic dialogue, which is scheduled in early June, will mainly include discussions on US investments and Bangladesh export.
Bangladesh's export to the US is currently $10 billion a year, as the latter remains our largest development partner.
In recent dialogues, Washington put strong focus on Bangladesh's labour rights issue.
Earlier in 2013, the US suspended the GSP (generalised system of preferences) facility due to concerns over labour rights. Bangladesh also cannot avail the US's International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) facility for the same reason.
"I think we will discuss the restoration of the GSP in the Economic Forum," Momen said.
He added that Bangladesh is currently unaffected from the lack of DFC funding. "However, if there are additional benefits, the government will ask for it."
On labour reforms, Momen said the government regularly discusses the issue with the European Union and the International Labour Organization.
He said there is an inter-ministerial committee comprised of secretaries of the ministries of foreign affairs, law, home, labour and commerce that meet from time to time and assess the progress.
About specific issues that the US raise regarding labour rights, the foreign secretary said some include the formation of trade unions, the right to association, stopping any kind of intimidation and child labour.
"We are working [to address the concerns] but our reality also needs to be considered. We were delayed in some reforms due to the Covid-19 pandemic … We are trying to make up for those."
In the Economic Forum, the issue of the Rab sanctions may also come up on the sidelines, he said.