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Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed pulls up USA's GSP denial

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2015-05-11 22:54:35 BdST

The signing of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) between Bangladesh and the US will be rendered meaningless unless the country's products get duty-free access to the American market, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has said.

"We signed the TICFA to facilitate our access to the US markets, so if our products are denied the GSP, this will mean nothing," Ahmed said at the inaugural function of "Denim Expo" at a Dhaka hotel on Monday.

Referring to how China, India, Japan, Canada and Australia have extended preferential trade privileges to Bangladesh, he said the US has always seemed opposed to duty-free access for Bangladeshi products.

"But in spite of that, we end up exporting ordinary products like tobacoo, plastic goods and spectacle frames worth about $ 20 million a year to the US," he said.

"Ever since our independence, we have tried to maintain friendship with the US. But we have found they are against giving our products preferential access to their markets."

In presence of leading diplomats and garment industry captains, Ahmed claimed Bangladesh had created a strong position in the apparel industry. "If all goes well, we will be a role model in this industry by 2021."

BGMEA chief Atiqul Islam referred to 'tough times' for the Bangladesh garment industry due to currency fluctuations like that of the euro which have eaten into the value of export earnings.

"So we hope the next budget will give us concessions to survive a tough situation and not tax us any further."

He described the Rana Plaza tragedy as a 'wakeup call' for the Bangladesh garment industry and said producers were trying their best now to provide labour safe and better working conditions than before..

Executive Director of Denim Expo Mostafiz Uddin said that sale proceeds of this Expo would go towards establishment of an university for improving knowledge on denim production.

Twenty-five denim and jeans producers from India, China, US, Japan, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand and San Marino have joined the two-day Expo.

So have top buyers from US, UK and Europe.

Four professional seminars have been organised during the Expo.