Ticfa has no relation with GSP: GM Quader
Commerce Minister G M Quader today said that Ticfa signing has no relationship with regaining the GSP status to the US market, although from now Bangladesh will be able to raise the issue in the forum meeting.
“In fact we have already raised the GSP regaining issue to the forum while signing the agreement and it will be broadly discussed in the first forum meeting in Dhaka in next January,” the minister added.
His comment came in defense of signing of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US.
He termed the agreement ‘simple and harmless’ in response to the criticisms from different quarters.
Bangladesh signed the Ticfa with the US Monday in Washington.
“The agreement is very simple and harmless. We will not lose our sovereignty for signing the agreement. We do not see any legal binding for signing the agreement. TICFA will just create a platform to resolve bilateral trade disputes,” Quader told the reporters at a press conference at secretariat in Dhaka.
“We will also demand duty-free entry of garment products to the US market in the forum’s Dhaka meeting,” Quader said.
The US government is scheduled to review the GSP status, that was scrapped in June 27 citing serious shortcomings in labour rights and safety in factories after the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza building collapse, in December as Bangladesh has already improved in workers’ rights and factory conditions.
Replying the queries of journalists, Quader said this government can sign the agreement as the draft of the deal was approved by the elected cabinet in June 17 for signing the agreement with the US.
“We could have signed the agreement within one week of cabinet’s nod, but it was delayed only for the foreign ministry,” he said.
After the cabinet approval, the commerce ministry served at least four letters to the foreign ministry for selecting time and venue for signing the agreement, but it did not show interest, he said.
No political intention worked here and the agreement has been signed only for greater interest of the people of Bangladesh.
The signing of Ticfa has also relationship with announcement of election schedules, the minister said as some journalists enquired of whether the agreement had been signed to gain favours from the powerful US to solemnise the next general election.
Among the Saarc nations all countries except Bhutan has the Ticfa or similar kinds of agreements with the US, he said.
Currently, Bangladesh has bilateral trade agreements with 42 countries and eight trade blocs, the minister said adding the country bilateral trade agreements with eight more countries are underway.
Talks for signing the Tifa, which was later renamed to Ticfa, officially started in 2002, although unofficially it began as far back as 1992.