Bangladesh's products are not receiving preferential access to the United States' market though Dhaka has signed TICFA (Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement) with Washington, lamented Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the "23rd US Trade Show 2014" as the chief guest at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on Monday morning, he said receiving GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facility is very important for Bangladesh if it wants to become a middle-income country.
In June 2013, President Barack Obama suspended trade benefits for Bangladesh under the GSP programme citing dangerous and even deadly working conditions in the clothing factories. GSP is a special trade privilege under which nearly 5000 categories of products can enter the US market duty-free.
"Our products are not receiving preferential access to the US market though we signed TICFA," he said adding that "TICFA will become meaningless unless we get access to the US market."
The Commerce Minister claimed that as a developing country Bangladesh was supposed to get duty-free access facilities to the US market according to the rules of the World Trade Organisation(WTO). But, the country is not receiving any such facilities. "The US is not giving Bangladesh any duty-free access facilities though the European Union countries, Japan and other developed nations provide Bangladesh preferential access to their markets."
In his speech, Tofail called upon the US to take 'positive steps' regarding duty-free access of Bangladesh's products to its market.
However, US Ambassador Dan W. Mozena who was present at the inauguration ceremony as special guest did not utter a single word about GSP or TICFA.
Rather, Ambassador Mozena laid emphasis on 'creating a congenial atmosphere' by the Bangladesh government to attract US investment.
"Investment-friendly environment will be created if rule of law can be ensured, and corruption, red-tapism and political unrest can be stopped," he said.
The US Ambassador also insisted that the government would have to play the leading role in ensuring rights of workers by improving working condition in the ready-made garment factories.
Referring to the American companies taking part in the US Trade Show, Ambassador Mozena said the US energy giants like Chevron and ConocoPhillips have been playing important roles in hydrocarbon exploration in Bangladesh.
Besides, the Boeing company, an American multinational corporation, is supplying aircraft to the Bangladesh Biman.
"These American companies have been playing significant roles for the development of Bangladesh's emerging economy," he said.