The Bangladesh cabinet has approved a proposal to sign Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) to bolster commercial ties with the US ending months of haggling.
The approval came Monday at a regular weekly meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The much-talked-about agreement will offer a platform for Bangladesh and the US to discuss bilateral trade issues, including the trade barriers and opportunities and also investment in the two countries.
Though it was learnt several times earlier that the authorities concerned were almost ready to sign it, some unresolved issues stopped them from signing it.
Four core factors — security, protection of investment, intellectual property rights and standard of labour — were the main obstacles in signing of the Ticfa.
Earlier on May 12, Commerce Minister GM Quader said Bangladesh agreed in principle to sign the Ticfa with the US, mainly to boost the trade with the world super power.
The minister added that the Ticfa was a necessary platform to resolve bilateral trade issues between the two countries.
“We are agreed to sign the Ticfa soon. But signing it is not any pre-requisite for continuation of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the US market,” Quader told journalists.
The GSP is a duty-waiver scheme of the US government for the least developed countries, introduced in 1976.
Bangladesh has continued lobbying to retain the GSP, as the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (the largest trade union in the US) filed a petition with the United States Trade Representative to discontinue the GSP after the Tazreen Fashions fire incident last November.
USTR is yet to give verdict on the issue. Bangladesh attended the hearing on March 28 in the US.
Source: The Daily Star