Staff Reporter : Bangladesh will seek preferential market access from the United States, while the counterpart is likely to ask for stopping the export of counterfeit goods to the market in the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) meeting.
The seventh round of the TIFCA meeting is scheduled to be held on September 20 in Dhaka amid diplomatic strained between the two countries.
Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry will lead the Bangladesh side, while Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Brendan Lynch will be the head of the US team.
The meeting is likely to discuss the topics affecting the bilateral trade relationship, including market access, labour rights, digital trade policies, intellectual property protection and enforcement, and policies impacting the investment climate, according to the Commerce Ministry.
Regarding the meeting, Tapan Kanti Ghosh on Monday told The New Nation, “Along with the preferential market access, we will seek support to enjoy the trade benefits as an LDC, even after graduation to developing country status in 2026.”
“We will also demand strongly to get duty free or duty reduction as we have already withdrawn the mandatory rule of double fumigation of US cotton, which was a long-time demand of Washington,” he said.
“Besides, simplified procedures for pharmaceuticals goods registration and US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) facilities in Bangladesh will be sought in the meeting,” he added.
Bangladesh and the US signed the TICFA to establish an annual forum to identify and address obstacles to increasing bilateral trade and investment on November 25, 2013.
However, there have been no visible outcomes from the previous six meetings.
The TICFA was signed after Washington suspended the GSP privilege for the country in June, 2013 following the Rana Plaza disaster.
Subsequently, the US rolled out a 16-point plan of actions to improve workers safety and labour rights.
The government claims to have implemented most of those demands, but did not get back the GSP privilege despite repeated requests.
The US is the single largest export destination for Bangladesh.
The export figure was $10.42 billion in 2022.
Woven garments and knitwear are the main export items.
Imports are also rising.
In 2022, Bangladesh imported $2.82 billion worth of products from the US.
Imported items include mineral fuels, mineral oils and oil seeds such as soya bean, cotton, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances.
However, local exporters, especially garment makers, face a 15.62 percent duty on exports to the US market.
The Bangladesh side will seek a reduction of the duty on exports during the TICFA meeting.