Washington, D.C. (Nov. 25, 2013) — U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman gave remarks and presided over the signing of the United States – Bangladesh Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA).
The agreement was signed by Bangladesh Secretary of Commerce Mahbub Ahmed and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler. The TICFA provides a mechanism for both governments to discuss trade and investment issues and areas of cooperation.
“With this agreement, the U.S. and Bangladesh will more regularly work together to address issues of concern in our trade and investment relationship,” Ambassador Froman said. “Importantly, we’ll also be able to track and discuss Bangladeshi efforts to improve worker safety and worker rights. This is an important priority for the United States as Bangladesh seeks to prevent more tragedies in its ready-made garment sector.”
In June 2013, President Obama suspended the eligibility of Bangladesh for tariff benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. GSP is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 126 designated beneficiary countries and territories. The suspension was based on insufficient progress by the Government of Bangladesh in affording Bangladeshi workers internationally recognized worker rights.
In July 2013, USTR provided Bangladesh with an Action Plan on worker rights and safety that, if implemented, could provide a basis for the President to consider the reinstatement of GSP trade benefits. In the bilateral meeting following the TICFA signing, the Government of Bangladesh shared its progress to-date on addressing the various elements of the Action Plan.
Bangladesh is currently our 59th largest goods trading partner with $5.4 billion in total bilateral goods trade during 2012.