The US State Department is upbeat with the progress on the partnership with Bangladesh but has no word about a decision on the preferential treatment of Bangladeshi exports to America.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said on Monday the Generalised System of Preferences was going through its own process in Washington. “It will be finalised sometime in June. And that is all I can say about that.”
The US diplomat currently in Dhaka as co-chair of the second US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue said the working groups had covered a wide range of issues.
The extent of progress made in such short time, according to her, was rather impressive. “I could not have had a better partner,” Sherman said near the beginning of her short brief to the press at the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
Regarding the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement that the US has been pushing for over several years, Sherman said both parties were working towards it. “We hope to finalise it soon,” she said without giving out further details or a concrete timeline when asked when this deal might be signed.
The partnership dialogue has covered a number of areas including development, governance, security, climate change, trade and regional integration with promises and potential of further cooperation in almost all the areas.
The textile sector has been in focus since the building collapse killing over 1100 people in Savar last month and it featured prominently on Monday too. In fact, Sherman took a moment to remember some of the victims, whose ‘haunting’ images she said were ‘seared in memory’.
As regards US reaction to such a tragedy, Sherman refrained from issuing any caution or warning but said she hoped that this tragedy one that triggers transformation.
She recalled the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York on Mar 25, 1911 where over 100 people died triggering a sea of change including a new building code, greater freedom of association besides other things that have gone on to ensure a safer workplace.
Sherman hoped that the Rana Plaza collapse would also work in a similar manner for Bangladesh.