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Import of US cotton may remove opposition to duty-free RMG export PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 April 2008

The US import duty is quite high for the Asian and the Middle Eastern countries and Bangladesh is one of those hard hit by it, said noted policy analyst Dr Edward Gresser, reports agency.

Director of the Washington-based Progressive Policy Institute Gresser is currently on a visit to Bangladesh and made the comment at a seminar at the conference room of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at it’s Karwan Bazar headquarters.

Dr Kamal Hossain was also present. BGMEA vice president Abdus Salam was in the chair. The seminar was also attended by BGMEA directors and trade union leaders. Chairman of the US-Bangladesh Advisory council Shabbir Ahmed, currently on a visit here, also spoke on the occasion.

Dr Mostafa Abid Khan of Bangladesh Tariff Commission, who made keynote presentation, said duty free access to Bangladesh textile products by the USA may alone create 1,80,000 employment of which 1,44,000 employment may go to women. He made a strong plea to allow duty free export of Bangladesh textiles to the USA projecting its different multipliers and accelerators effects in other sectors of the economy.

The garment industry transformed Bangladesh from an aid dependent to trade promoting nation, he said. Dr Gresser, known for his outspoken stand to favor LDCs trade interest and a friend of Bangladesh helping its case for duty free apparel exports said in 2007 Bangladesh paid US$ 523 million against a US $ 3.04 billion worth of apparel export while the UK paid only a fraction of it against a huge export of US$ 52 billion.

He said, the US retailers are favoring low import duty while the textile lobby is apprehensive of it and pouring criticism against the legislative bill now in the Congress seeking duty free market access for textile products of the LDCs of the Asia- Pacific nations.

“We need to find a balance,” he said adding, the USA is taking interest in helping Bangladesh as it would play significant role in creating jobs and removing poverty. He asked the Bangladesh manufacturers to increase the production line efficiency to face buyers pressure to lower the selling cost.

He told another questioner that the subsidy programme to US farmers and exporters of agricultural products will very little change in the next two to three years indicating the WTO negotiations on the sensitive issue may continue longer.

To a question on the rise in the food and oil prices, he said, it might reduce buyers spending on textile products to adversely impact the garment industry of Bangladesh in the form slow down in placement of export orders.

However, he apprehended that the slow down in the US economy is taking a recessionary trend but he opined at the same time that exports from countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan will continue unaffected. Gresser said, the USA is taking interest in the point that the duty free access to Bangladesh textile products, when granted will significantly increase employment and export to the USA.

Shabbir Ahmed laid emphasis on engaging skilled trade negotiators saying Bangladeshi garments exporters should import more US cotton to create natural allies within the US society with a view to overcoming textile sector’s resistance. He said, at least one textile mill is closing every month in the USA and it needs a home somewhere.

Shabbir said, Bangladesh can do it by importing US cotton. He Said, some of these closed textile mills are sold here and this is how the US industry is being relocated here, it should be promoted in the mutual interest of both countries, he suggested.

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