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Dhaka seeks duty free market access to US

DHAKA, May 17, 2017 (BSS) - The third round of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) meeting between Bangladesh and the United States concluded here today with a call for forging trade and investment relations for mutual benefits of the two countries.

During the daylong meeting, Bangladesh sought duty free market access to the US in line with WTO's Bali Ministerial decision. "We have sought duty and quota free market access to the US because it has been offering such facilities to other LDCs," said commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose who led the 21-member Bangladesh team in the meeting held at the state guest house Padma.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs Mark Linscott led the 15-member team of the US, said a commerce ministry media release.

Briefing journalists after the meeting Bose said the Bangladesh team also requested the US to simplify its procedures so that Bangladesh can get access to the service sector of the US and export nurses and midwives.

"We have also sought access of Bangladesh professionals to the US service sector and we have urged the US team to offer Bangladesh a favourable scheme in this regard," said Bose.

About boosting the US investment in Bangladesh, Bose said they requested the US side to take steps to encourage US entrepreneurs to invest in Bangladesh as the government is offering the same facilities which it is offering for the local investors.

Replying to a question about restoration of GSP facilities for Bangladesh, US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat said, "You know that there is a new administration in the US. So it depends on the US Congress."

About the fall of Bangladesh's export to the US, she said exports to the US from different countries have dropped recently. But Bangladesh's export faces marginal drop compared to other countries such as China.

However, Bernicat suggested expansion of Bangladesh export products to the US, saying that depending on one product-RMG-is vulnerable.

Labour and employment secretary Mikail Shipar and foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque were also present at the briefing.

Mikail Shipar said the government is thinking to amend the existing labour law as the US team suggested Bangladesh to ensure the rights of workers and trade union in Bangladesh.

The TICFA, a platform to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues between Bangladesh and the USA, was signed on November 25, 2013.

The first TICFA meeting was held in Dhaka on April 26, 2014 and the second one took place in Washington on November 23, 2015.