Bangladesh and the USA will hold a senior-level meeting on Wednesday to look for a ‘bigger picture’ of enhanced trade cooperation amid numbers of US companies’ increasing interest over Bangladesh’s large market and sustained economic growth.
“We have seen tremendous market potential in Bangladesh … we thought, we should have a senior level discussion to develop a shared vision for advancing the US-Bangladesh economic partnership,” said a senior official of US embassy on Monday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s industry and investment advisor F Salman Rahman and US undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment Keith J. Krach will lead their respective sides at the virtual meeting on Wednesday.
Bangladesh and the US have already been engaged in trade talks under the existing economic forum called ‘Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA), since signing of the deal in 2013, to keep stability in the US-Bangladesh trade relationship.
“It (Wednesday’s meeting) will not replace the TICFA …it has different emphasis .. TICFA focuses on specific trade and investment issues … this one will look for bigger picture of enhanced cooperation,” said the official.
He said number of different issues are expected to be touched during the meeting that focuses on ‘how to strengthen our overall economic ties’.
Saying that both the governments are ‘very happy’ about the initiative, he said, “We are expecting some announcements very shortly before or after the meeting.”
The two sides are expecting to discuss on public health corporation especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic while the prospects of US investment in Bangladesh in the areas of agriculture, ICT, blue economy, energy, tourism and connectivity will be reviewed at the meeting.
The official said several new US companies have started noticing Bangladesh for doing business here considering its huge market potential with a large population.
“Bangladesh maintains a very impressive economic growth,” he said while mentioning that recently Bangladesh has made successful entry to the US market with PPE.
About Dhaka’s demand for reinstating GSP facility scrapped in 2013 against the backdrop of worker rights issues, the official said the GSP issue is not significant in Bangladesh-US trade as Bangladesh’s major RMG products were never eligible for its advantage.
Pointing that Bangladesh government has made a big push for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) focusing special economic zones, the official said Dhaka needs to bring more improvement in ‘ease of doing businesses’ to attract more investment here.
Another US embassy official said infrastructure facilities and transparency are also vital issues here regarding getting more investment while the US companies have laid emphasis on investment in the Bangladesh’s energy sector.
The US is Bangladesh’s single largest export destination while as a least developed country, 97 per cent of the goods originating from Bangladesh enjoy duty-free benefits in the US markets as per the decision taken by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2005.
According to official figures, the two-way Bangladesh-US trade volume in 2019 was around US$9 billion, an amount which was doubled in 10 years.