The United States at the upcoming meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) will raise the issue of American companies facing problems in repatriating profits from their investments in Bangladesh.
Several US firms, including MetLife Insurance, are encountering challenges repatriating their profits from Bangladesh due to the dollar crisis in the country, according to commerce ministry officials.
Several US investors in Dhaka met with the governor of the central bank earlier this month and discussed the issue. The US will again raise the issue as an important agenda item in the meeting, the ministry officials said.
The US has also set several other agendas, including market access, labour rights, trade policies, intellectual property issues and investment climate for the meeting, to be held at a Dhaka hotel on 20 September.
Labour rights and freedom of expression are top agendas of the US, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary of the commerce ministry, said yesterday after a preparatory meeting for Ticfa.
"They [US] want all applications for trade unions to be granted. They have linked labour rights issues with everything," he added.
The US is also expected to propose amendments to the Agricultural Biotechnology Dialogue and the Seed Act Rules.
On the other hand, Bangladesh will propose to impose tariffs only on the amount of value addition in Bangladesh in the case of garment products made of cotton imported from the US for export to the country's market.
"Since cotton is imported from the US and RMG is made and exported to the US, it is like a buyback. Therefore levy on full value of RMG is not justified," Tapan Kanti Ghosh said.
"I will also highlight the fact that Bangladesh's exports to the US market have decreased," said the commerce secretary.
Besides, Dhaka will seek US support for LDC Group's proposal in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to continue duty free quota free access facility to the US market and duty free export facility and TRIPS benefit for six years even after LDC graduation.
The commerce secretary said the US objected to the WTO's proposal. The rest of the countries have either supported the proposal or are silent following the US.
Bangladesh will emphasise that the US supports the LDC proposal at the WTO ministerial meeting next year, he added.
Bangladesh will also insist on facilitating the registration of Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals products in the US and getting financing from the US International Development Finance Corporation.
Regarding counterfeit issues, the commerce secretary said, "Rights are legally guaranteed in Bangladesh, and if violated, individuals can sue for justice. However, the US wants the government to file a case in this case, which is not feasible. We will present this statement."
Tapan Kanti Ghosh and acting Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Brendan Lynch will co-chair the Ticfa meeting. Both delegations will include officials from trade, labour, agriculture, and other relevant ministries.
This is going to be the 7th round of Ticfa meetings between Bangladesh and the US.
The US and Bangladesh have formally engaged on trade issues since the US-Bangladesh Ticfa entered into force in 2013.