The government has prepared thedraft of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) thatbangladewsh and the USA may sign in future.
Prepared ahead of the USSecretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Bangladesh, a copy of the draftis now lying with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for herapproval, a highly-placed source in the commerce ministry told journalistsrecently.
When signed, TICFA will offer aplatform for Bangladesh and the US to discuss bilateral trade issues, includingthe trade barriers and opportunities and also investment in the two countries.
The TICFA issue may come up for discussion during Hillary Clinton's Dhaka visit on May 5,but signing of the agreement is unlikely this time, the source said. Amongother things, trade-related issues like duty-free garment export to the USmight be discussed during her visit.
Hillary Clinton is coming to Bangladesh as part of her tourto different Asian countries. This will be her first visit to Bangladesh as thesecretary of state. Earlier, she came to Bangladesh in 1995 when she was the USfirst lady. The US government has been pressing Bangladesh to sign the TICFA,but the two countries could not reach an agreement over the issue of standardof labour in industrial units. Recently, the issue of labour was revised inconsultation with the US.
Bangladesh has long beendemanding duty-free access for garment products to the US market.
Ninety-seven percent Bangladeshigoods have duty-free access to the US market, but the list does not includegarment, the main export item of the country.
At present, Bangladesh has to paymore than 15 percent tariff for garment products to get in the US market.