Ticfa signing may impact US' GSP stance: Analysts
The move to sign Ticfa treaty with the US may result in the superpower to reconsider its rigid stance on continuing Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities for Bangladesh, said two foreign policy analysts.
Terming the decision to sign Ticfa as a "timely move", Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute (PRI), said: "It provides a positive signal to the US Administration."
After months of haggling over four core factors -- security, protection of investment, intellectual property rights and standard of labour, the Bangladesh cabinet, on Monday, approved the proposal to sign Ticfa.
Citing fears about GSP facility cancellation by the US on poor labour standards in garment industry, Mansur told The Daily Star although GSP issue is not related with Ticfa, a diplomatic issue is involved here.
It will unofficially help Bangladesh retain GSP privilege, noted the former International Monetary Fund official, adding that such a broad framework for dealing with bilateral trade and investment issues was necessary.
Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor of International Relations at Dhaka University, thinks that the US may attach some difficult conditions even if it reconsiders its stance on continuation of GSP facility.
President Barack Obama’s decision on the GSP facilities is due by June 30 and the nod on Ticfa might be the last ditch effort by the current government to secure the facilities, he told The Daily Star in a phone interview on the government move.
“Government is already in a weak position in the eye of the global community due to internal political turmoil and its ideological stance regarding Grameen Bank,” he said, explaining Bangladesh’s move to sign Ticfa might not be enough to improve that image.
However, even if Ticfa is signed within this tenure of the government, the full potential might not be realised within the short span of time, said Ahmed.
“The success of the agreement depends on the diplomatic competence and strong negotiations from the people concerned,” he added.
“With the general elections looming, this move might be perceived by the people of the country as a way to retain vote banks,” Ahmed further said.
Mansur, meantime, pointed out that many countries, including neighbouring India and Pakistan, have bilateral framework with the US.
"Even Vietnam, which had fought with the US for two decades, has such bilateral contract with the US. They did not shy away from signing the deal with the USA just on the cause of war," he said.
Consultation is necessary with the US, the single largest trading partner, on trade and investment issues to address problems raised by businesses, he insisted.
"Presently, we have consultations with the US. But it is done informally. Once the treaty is signed, it will take place in structured manners every year and businessmen can place problems to the forum," he said.
The bilateral deal will help Bangladesh get more US investments, he observed.
"But it is not a sufficient condition, it's a helpful condition."