Bangladesh is going to officially request the United States for duty-free access of Bangladeshi apparel produced from US cotton to its market, during a Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) Council meeting slated for 6 December in Washington, according to commerce ministry sources.
At the meeting, Dhaka will also urge Washington to reduce tariff rates on the import of Bangladeshi readymade garments as a whole.
Also, Bangladesh will request the United States Food and Drug Administration to simplify the procedure for the registration of Bangladeshi pharmaceutical products, said the sources.
An official of the commerce ministry told The Business Stand that the United States is interested in increasing cotton exports to Bangladesh, which is why Washington has kept the issue of withdrawing the cotton fumigation imposed by Bangladesh in its agenda for the forthcoming Ticfa meeting.
In this context, Bangladesh has decided to present a strong argument that the United States should provide duty-free export facilities to RMG products manufactured in Bangladesh using cotton imported from the US, he added.
A Bangladesh delegation led by the commerce ministry's Senior Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh will participate in the 6th meeting of Ticfa where Bangladesh will put forward a proposal to get financing from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
The suspension of the GSP (generalised system of preferences) facility in the US market has made Bangladesh miss out on a big opportunity – the country cannot access the $60 billion fund of the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for private sector energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure and technology projects.
Bangladesh is not considered for loans from the DFC as the US has not yet given back the GSP facility to the country, after it suspended the trade benefit in June 2013, citing serious shortcomings in labour rights and workplace safety following the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Established in 2019, the DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets.
Its investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.
On the other hand, the US side will discuss the SEED Act provisions to reduce tariffs on imports of tree nuts (walnuts, almonds) in Bangladesh, and get an opportunity to export agricultural biotechnology and seeds to Bangladesh, the commerce ministry sources said.
Besides, the country has included issues such as the draft data protection act, draft regulation for digital, social media, OTT platforms, and other digital measures in its agenda.
The US agenda for the meeting also includes several issues regarding labour rights e.g. freedom of association and collective bargaining, safe and healthy working environment, labour rights in EPZ, child labour, and forced labour.
In addition, the US will discuss intellectual property rights.
On the other hand, Bangladesh will seek US technical assistance in the field of quality certification infrastructure building.