Ticfa meeting with US tomorrow
The seventh round of meetings under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) will begin in Dhaka tomorrow, Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said yesterday.
It will discuss a wide range of trade and investment issues such as duty, labour rights, trade unionism and market access, he told a group of journalists at his Bangladesh Secretariat office in Dhaka.
The information was shared after a preparatory meeting for the Ticfa talks with a team of United States Trade Representative (USTR), the chief trade negotiation body of the American government.
On November 25, 2013, the US and Bangladesh signed Ticfa to establish an annual forum to identify and address obstacles to increasing bilateral trade and investment.
Agenda of the Ticfa meeting includes market access and labour rights
Bangladesh will again demand duty-free market access of its apparel made from cotton imported from the US, said Ghosh.
Bangladesh wants the US customs to impose duty only on portions where value addition has occurred, not on the whole export value of the apparel product, he said.
For instance, if cotton imported from the US is used to manufacture a garment item in which the value addition amounts to Tk 20, Bangladesh will seek for duty to be imposed on that Tk 20 portion, not on the price of the whole item, he explained.
Bangladesh exported nearly $10 billion-worth garment items to the US last year.
Currently Bangladeshi exporters face a 15.62 percent duty on the export of apparel to the US.
The issue of the revival of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), that was suspended for Bangladesh in June 2013, will also be discussed during the meeting, said Ghosh.
Moreover, the country will seek simplifying procedures for registering pharmaceutical products alongside investment from the US International Development Finance Corporation and in Bangladesh's energy sector, he said.
Issues of labour rights, trade union registration, existing labour practices, labour law reforms, including amendments to Bangladesh labour act, and labour rights in special economic and export processing zones will also be discussed in the meeting, he said.
The issues of labour inspection and enforcement will also be discussed, according to the negotiation agenda.
A recent fall in exports from Bangladesh to the US will be discussed at the Ticfa meeting, Ghosh also said.
Shipments to the country's largest export destination slipped 6.82 per cent year-on-year to $9.70 billion in fiscal year 2022-23, as per data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
Issues such as support for Bangladesh's status graduation to a developing nation from a least developed country (LDC) and support for establishing quality certification infrastructure will be discussed in the meeting, according to the agenda.
Bangladesh will also seek US support for extension of the LDC trade benefits for six years past the LDC graduation, reasoning severe fallouts of the economy from the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war, said Ghosh.
Support of the US is very much needed for the extension of the LDC trade benefit after the LDC graduation in 2026, he said.
World Trade Organization (WTO) will discuss the LDC trade facilities extension issue in its next ministerial meeting in February next year, he said.
Issues such as intellectual property rights in pharmaceuticals and extension of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) for Bangladesh up to 2033 will also be discussed, he said.
The copyrights act amendment, industrial design act, patent bill and implementation regulation and IPR enforcement rules will also be discussed, he said.
Foreign direct investment of the US in Bangladesh, delays in profit repatriation and non-payment by the US companies in accordance with digital trade policies such as draft data protection act and draft regulation for digital social media and OTT platforms will be discussed, he said.
Cooperation in agriculture sector development, agricultural biotechnology dialogues, WTO customs valuation agreement and support for trade facilitation agreement issues are also in the agenda for discussion.
Brendan Lynch, acting assistant of the USTR for South and Central Asia, is expected to lead the American team in the Ticfa meeting.