Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen attends a luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) at The Westin Hotel Dhaka

DHAKA, (BSS) – Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen urged the United States (US) to give duty-free market access of Bangladesh ready-made garments (RMGs) made of imported US-cotton.

“Garment products made with cotton produced from the US should be provided duty-free access to the American market”, said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen he said during the monthly luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) at The Westin Hotel Dhaka.

Momen said several Caribbean countries are enjoying duty-free access to their products to US markets, adding: “We want such duty-free facility for Bangladesh RMGs to US markets.”

On an average, the US charges 15.6 per cent import duty on Bangladeshi products, which tend to be largely garment.

“This is unfortunate for a least-developed country like Bangladesh, as products imported from France, a developed nation, face only 0.5 per cent duty,” Momen said.

‘My proposal is that we will buy more cotton from the US for producing apparel products which should be exempted from duty,’ he added.

There also must not be any requirement for further testing of the products at Bangladesh port, he added.

‘Lets’ start and see how things happen,’ he said.

He said that the US was the biggest export destination of Bangladeshi products, mainly RMG, with $6.9 billion export earnings in the last fiscal year 2018-2019.

It is also one of the largest investors with total stock of foreign direct investment more than $3.6 billion.

But, the relationship could be much better and I hope in future trade relations between the two countries would be much better and stronger, he said.

Momen urged the US companies to make more FDI in Bangladesh to assist the country to achieve its aspiration for becoming a developed country by 2041 and achieving other development goals.

The rate of returns of investment is high in Bangladesh and after Rana Plaza building collapse, the labour standards and safety and security issues have been improved much.

About the US strength, he said that it was not weapon, rather fairness in justice system and human rights values were the strength of the US.

Momen also called for diversification of the export basket: some 84 per cent of exports earnings come from the apparel sector.

“Overdependence on one sector is not good. So we must go for product diversification.”

The neighbouring country China is very much keen to invest in Bangladesh, but the process in this regard is slow, he said.

Expressing frustration over the role of foreign nations in the Rohingya issue, he said that global voice about rights of Rohingya was not strong enough due to various influences. Global voices should be stronger for Rohingyas who has been executed for years and kicked out from their country, he said.

AmCham president Syed Ershad Ahmed said that Bangladesh should focus on research and development for product diversification and take steps to attract more FDI, which were the main challenges for the country despite economic growth at higher rate and other economic and social achievements over the last few years.

AmCham vice-president Syed Mohammad Kamal, US counsellor for political and economic affairs to Bangladesh Brent T Christensen, businesspeople, current and former diplomats, among others, attended the programme.


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