Update May 13, 2020

Dhaka 5-25 pm, 28-May, 2020

Bangladesh seeks 2-year duty-free market access to US

Mirajul Moin Joy

Bangladesh has sought a two-year duty-free access for its readymade garment products to the US market as the coronavirus pandemic put the major export-earning sector in trouble amid cancellations of global orders.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen made the request to the US government considering the current situation when he had a telephone conversation with US Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger on Tuesday evening.

Dr Momen also sought US support so that no export order from Bangladesh is cancelled.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) claimed that over US$ 3 billion orders have been cancelled over the last couple of months.

International brands and buyers’ business practices have been “questioned” amid cancellation of orders putting vast RMG workers in immense trouble though owners invested a lot in post-Rana Plaza incident bringing massive reforms.

Bangladesh, the top garment exporter in the world after China, is heavily dependent on European and American orders.

Bangladesh government and industry leaders started raising the issue of cancellation of orders by the international brands and buyers at various levels amid coronavirus crisis.

The Adviser of US President Donald Trump highly appreciated Bangladesh’s role in dealing with the current situation, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He assured Bangladesh of continuing US support to deal with the challenges of COVID-19.

Trump’s Adviser also appreciated Bangladesh for accepting Rohingyas who floated at deep sea for weeks.

The Foreign Minister reminded that other countries in the region should also share the burden saying it is not the sole responsibility of Bangladesh to give them shelter.

He also urged other countries to take back over 1.1 million Rohingyas sharing responsibilities who have given shelter by Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister sought strong role from the countries including the US in expediting the Rohingya repatriation initiative.

Trump’s Adviser thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on behalf of the US President for her letter sent to Trump on the occasion of birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Dr Momen urged the US to provide a special allocation for Bangladesh to ensure food security in the country amid coronavirus crisis.

The Foreign Minister also raised the investment issue and sought increased US investment in Bangladesh saying the country offers a good investment environment.

He mentioned about 100 economic zones being prepared in various parts of the country.

The Foreign Minister also sought US investment in the ICT sector saying some 28 IT parks are being built in Bangladesh.

About a question on Digital Security Act, Dr Momen said the mass media in Bangladesh enjoys much freedom compared to any other country.

He, however, said legal action will be taken as per law against those who will mislead people through misinformation, hate speech and instigating bad campaign.

Dr Momen said the US can import medical products, including medicines, from Bangladesh in a larger quantity, and mentioned that Bangladesh is now producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and masks.

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