Washington to renew pressure on Dhaka for signing TICFA

2nd Bangladesh-USA Partnership Dialogue May 27-28

Shakhawat Hossain

Washington is likely to renew its pressure on Dhaka for signing the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement and for improving labour rights in the apparel sector when the two sides meet here in May.
Foreign ministry officials said engagement between the two sides called the second round of ‘Bangladesh-USA Partnership Dialogue’ is scheduled to take place on May 27-28 in the capital.
Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque will lead the home side while the visiting delegation will be led by US undersecretary of state for political affairs Wendy Sherman.
The officials said Dhaka has long been pressurised by Washington for signing the TICFA.
More than half a dozen negotiations have been held in last four years between the two sides on the proposed deal. But the differences on immediate elimination of child labour from all sectors and allowing trade union at factories could not be sorted out.
Dhaka prefers more talks and wanted implementation of the conditions in phases, but Washington wanted signing of the deal immediately.
The ministry of foreign affairs has already asked the government agencies including the ministry of commerce, ministry of industries and ministry of labour to send their opinions on TICFA and labour issues by April 4.
Bangladesh will also discuss with US on outcome of the hearing Dhaka would give before the United States Trade Representative on labour rights.
A 15-member team headed by commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed left the capital on Monday to take part in the hearing to be held on March 28.
The USTR in last January threatened that it would withdraw GSP, a special facility, for Bangladeshi products while they enter into US market.
It threatened after observing that the government’s action to nab the killers of Aminul Islam, a popular labour leader, was not convincing.
Meanwhile, the government has taken a series of measures including declaring a bounty of Tk one lakh for capturing Mustafizur Rahman, the prime suspect for killing Aminul.
Bangladesh and the US signed an agreement in May last year under which both the countries decided to hold discussions between them to strengthen bilateral relations.
The first dialogue took place in September last year in Washington.

Source: New Age

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