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Dhaka Tribune

GSP to come up at maiden Ticfa meeting

Update : 19 Mar 2014, 07:46 PM

The first meeting of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Dhaka and Washington will be held on 27 and 28 April with the GSP issue to be getting special focus.

The first joint-council meet on Ticfa will evaluate progress towards implementation of action plan set by the United States to get back the facility of generalised system of preferences (GSP).

United States Trade Representatives (USTR) outlined 16 conditions in the Bangladesh Action Plan which deal with the improvement labour standards.

Earlier, the first Ticfa meet included the GSP action plan implementation issue in the agenda along other issues like women empowerment and their participation in the activities in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh claims it has fulfilled 13 out of 16 conditions and will present it in the meeting.

The first Ticfa meet was originally scheduled for April 7-8, but it was postponed as “officials were not ready.”

“The Ticfa meet will be held on April 28-29,” said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.

Earlier, a number of meetings were held between commerce, foreign, labour and women affairs ministries to finalise meeting agenda.

In the meetings, the ministries informed about their progress in different relevant sectors.

“Agenda for first Ticfa meet has been prepared already. All necessary data are also ready,” said Mahbub Ahmed, commerce secretary, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

 He said the progress reports on the GSP action plan were also under process and would be sent to the USTR before the meeting.

Earlier, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed claimed that Bangladesh had made a lot of improvements in fire safety of factories.

“But the sector still has some problems,” he said.

The government claims it has already met 13 conditions, out of 16, outlined by the US administration for the reinstatement of the GSP.

Further, it has decided to convert the existing Worker Welfare Association into trade union to address the readymade garment workers right in the export processing zones (EPZs).

Allowing trade unionism in the EPZs is one 16 conditions.

The country’s export to the United States has increased to $273m despite the suspension of the GSP.

Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data shows Bangladesh has exported products worth $3.3bn in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, which is 9.12% higher compared to $3.02bn for the same period one year ago.

Bangladesh currently exports goods worth $5.5bn to the USA annually, of which, $30m gets GSP facility. 

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