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United States and Bangladesh Hold Inaugural Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement Meeting

Dhaka, Bangladesh – On April 28, senior representatives of the governments of the United States and Bangladesh held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Bangladesh Forum on Trade and Investment (Forum), established pursuant to the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) to identify obstacles to increasing bilateral trade and investment and how best to overcome these obstacles.  Both governments reaffirmed their commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment as well as to address worker rights and worker safety issues in Bangladesh.  The Forum discussed a number of trade and investment issues, including: 1) investment rules; 2) intellectual property protection; 3) tariffs on fire safety and prevention equipment; 4) fumigation requirements for cotton imports into Bangladesh and 5) regional economic development and cooperation in the South and Southeast Asia region.  The Forum also reviewed Bangladesh’s efforts to date to address the worker rights and worker safety issues in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Action Plan.

The Forum praised the efforts of private sector initiatives to address worker safety in Bangladesh, including fire-safety and building-safety issues.  During the TICFA discussions, the Government of Bangladesh announced plans to eliminate Bangladesh’s tariffs and other charges on fire safety equipment – such as, sprinklers, fire doors and electrical equipment – making the costs of building remediation less expensive for factories.

The U.S. proposed the creation of a Labor Affairs Committee and a Committee on Women's Economic Empowerment.  Both sides will have regular engagement throughout the year.

Prior to the Forum meeting, stakeholders met with officials from both governments and provided important insight into issues that must be addressed to improve the bilateral trade and investment relationship.  The Forum thanked stakeholders for their invaluable contributions to the dialogue and plans to continue outreach with stakeholders on all aspects of the bilateral relationship.  Both sides decided that the next Forum meeting will take place in Washington in 2015.

Background

The United States-Bangladesh TICFA came into force on January 30, 2014.  Bangladesh is currently the United States’ 58th largest goods trading partner with $6.1 billion in total (two way) goods trade during calendar year 2013.  U.S. goods exports to Bangladesh in 2013 were $712 million, up 41.9% ($210 million) from 2012.