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Bangladesh requests Clinton for duty-free RMG exports
May '12
As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a two-day visit to Bangladesh, the country sought resolution of some key pending issues like duty-free access for its readymade garments (RMG) in US, Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status and finalization and quick implementation of Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) to further boost trade between the two economies.

During their meeting with Ms. Clinton, Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chairperson of BRAC, which is counted among the world's leading Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), requested the US Secretary of State to allow Bangladesh to export garments at zero-duty to the US market.

The duo said that such a step would help in generation of more employment opportunities in the country, especially for women.

Prof. Yunus said if Bangladeshi garments get duty-free access to the US, it would boost employment of women in the country.

Presently, around 97 percent of Bangladesh's exports to the US enjoy duty-free access to the US, but this does not include garments, one of the country's key export items.

Since US happens to be the sole largest destination for Bangladeshi apparel exports, it is seeking a prompt resolution of the long-pending issue.

Garments and textiles constitute about 90 percent of Bangladesh's exports to the US, while jute items, raw jute, agro-products, leather, chemical products, etc. constitute the rest.

While China, world's biggest apparel supplier, needs to pay only 3 percent duty, Bangladesh's RMG exports to the US are subjected to a 15.3 percent levy, and that is in spite of it being a least developed country.

Renewing the GSP scheme for the least developed countries on September 22 last year, the Obama administration permitted duty-free access of around 4,800 items from 131 countries to the US. However, this has not much benefited Bangladesh, as it is not a big producer of the items included in the list. Garments, Bangladesh top export item, is not included in the list.

Further, in January this year, the US Government excluded Bangladesh-made sleeping bags from the list of GSP stating it to be detrimental to its domestic industry. Bangladesh has lodged an appeal against this decision, and the matter is pending.

Bangladesh each year pays over US$ 600 in duty to the US, which is almost at par with the annual aid it receives from the US.

As per the figures of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh, the country last year exported goods worth US$ 4.59 billion to the US, while it imported items worth US$ 1.09 billion.

China's exports to the US for the same period were valued at US$ 377.33 billion.

Bangladesh presently enjoys duty-free access to Japan and the EU, two of the developed trade blocs. The US also has to grant it a similar facility under the Doha Round of 2001, as it is a least developed country.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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