U.S. and Bangladesh Sign Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement
Bangladesh Secretary of Commerce Mahbub Ahmed and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler on Nov. 25 signed a bilateral Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the TICFA provides a mechanism for both governments to discuss trade and investment issues and areas of cooperation. TICFA objectives include monitoring trade and investment relations between the parties and identifying opportunities for expanding trade and investment, considering specific trade and investment matters of interest to the parties, and seeking the advice of the private sector and civil society where appropriate on matters related to the Forum’s work. Each party will be able to submit a specific trade or investment matter to the TICFA by delivering a written request to the other party that includes a description of the matter concerned. The Forum will address that matter promptly unless the requesting party agrees to postpone discussion of the matter.
U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman indicated that the TICFA will enable the United States to track and discuss Bangladeshi efforts to improve worker safety and worker rights. The Obama administration in June 2013 suspended Bangladesh’s eligibility under the Generalized System of Preferences based on insufficient progress by Bangladeshi authorities to ensure the protection of internationally recognized worker rights. The USTR subsequently 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 benefits.