Bangladesh and the United States are set to hold a high-level economic consultation in Washington with a special focus on trade, investment and labour rights issues. The new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) is also likely to be discussed there.
The US said its new economic grouping for the Indo-Pacific will begin with 13 inaugural members, accounting for about 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. The 13 initial members of the group are the US, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. Prime Minister’s Adviser for Private Industry and Investment Salman F Rahman will lead the Bangladesh delegation Thursday at the dialogue. It is composed of officials from the ministries of finance, commerce, foreign affairs, and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).
The US is now the single largest export destination for Bangladeshi products, mainly readymade garments, which is worth $8 billion a year. The US suspended the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility for Bangladesh following the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013.
“We are concerned about insufficient labour rights and poor working conditions in Bangladesh. These concerns, unfortunately, cost Bangladesh access to the US Generalized System of Preferences trade benefit, or GSP, in 2013,” said US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas on Tuesday. They are also causing Bangladesh to miss out on the US Development Finance Corporation, a massive source of investment capital from the US, he added.