The maiden meeting under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Dhaka and Washington will be held on April 27-28, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday.
Though Bangladesh has improved much on fire safety issues at factories, still there are some problems, the minister said.
He spoke to a delegation of Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) at his office where Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed was also present.
The first Ticfa meeting was originally scheduled for April 7-8, but it was postponed as officials were not ready.
“We hope to recruit 200 inspectors within this month to monitor factories,” Ahmed said.
The commerce minister also talked on other issues including signing of free trade agreements with potential countries, export diversification, foreign investment and WTO's trade measures for least developed countries.
“FTAs with China, India or Japan will not benefit us as we have duty-free market access in those countries. Rather we'll go for FTAs with South American countries,” he said.
The minister said Bangladesh has a huge potential to grow and many foreign entrepreneurs are keen to invest here. He gave the example of an American company that has recently expressed interest to invest $1 billion in Bangladesh. He said China also wants to invest in the 'garment village' at Baushia in Munshiganj.
On the World Trade Organisation's recent meeting in Bali, Ahmed said his government would take all possible measures to help realise the potential benefits of preferential treatment for the LDCs. He said he is going to Geneva on April 1 to work on the issue.
The minister pledged to work closely with the ERF for the sake of the economy. He said journalists can play an important role in developing a positive image of the country abroad.
ERF President Sultan Mahmud and General Secretary Sajjadur Rahman also spoke.