The Bangladesh ambassador to the US, Akramul Qader, Thursday said he was not aware of any development related to the signing of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Ticfa) with Washington.
“I did not hear anything. I am the man who will inform the US officials about the development but I don’t know anything about it,” he told the Dhaka Tribune over telephone in the evening.
“So far I know, it is still at the negotiation stage,” Qader said.
A source in the foreign affairs ministry said the Ticfa deal must be passed through cabinet before it is signed.
“It was supposed to be placed at the Monday’s [May 13] cabinet meeting. But as the foreign affairs minister was not present during the meeting, it was withdrawn in the last minute,” he said.
The minister then was in New York to attend a UN meeting on human trafficking.
A single word in the preamble of the agreement is the stumbling block in signing it, another official said. “Bangladesh wants to put ‘incremental’ or ‘progressive’ or similar word in the preamble but Washington does not agree with it,” he added.
The two countries have been negotiating for the last four years on Ticfa but could not sign it as Bangladesh wants to insert the single word in the preamble while the rest of document is okay, he said.
The US authorities fear that back off from the Ticfa may have negative impact on the trade interests of Bangladesh. GSP
Foreign affairs Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told the Dhaka Tribune from Washington that on Wednesday he led a delegation to have a meeting with the US Trade Representative and Labour Department officials to discuss GSP issue.
“In the meeting, Michael Delaney [of USTR], Eric Biel [of Labour Department] and all the members of the US GSP team took part,” he said.
“I also had a meeting with state department assistant secretaries Robert Blake and Jose Fernandez to discuss the GSP,” he said.
Asked about the fate of the GSP, Shahidul said: “We are hopeful.”
Ambassador Qader said the secretary told the US officials about the actions already been taken by the government and the owners.
“The outcome will be available in June and we are hopeful that it will be positive,” he said.
Bangladesh following the petition by US-based labour organisation AFLOCIO faced GSP hearing on March 28 and later the GSP team put forward 19 questions for further clarification. Dhaka submitted its answers on April 24, the day when eight-storey Rana Plaza collapsed killing more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers.