Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bangladesh no to Europe’s ‘trade and aid’ proposal at WTO

Saleem Samad

Bangladesh on Tuesday opposed the European Union proposal on the ‘aid for trade’ which would have benefitted flood devastated Pakistan’s apparel and textile products export.

It is a departure of Bangladesh when it said Pakistan officials that it is considering to withdraw the objection regarding a EU move to grant beneficial import conditions to Pakistan textile producers as an aid measures following floods last year.

"Exports worth over $100 million will be affected if the privilege is extended to Islamabad," Muhammad Faruk Khan, Ministry for Commerce said, "if the EU extends the facility to Pakistan we suggested it should be for two years and not for unlimited period".

The commerce minister argued that Pakistan, as a cotton-producing country, would enjoy a competitive advantage over Bangladesh, should that happen.

However, Bangladesh supported the EU move to allow duty-free access of 75 products from Pakistan incorporating tariff rate quota on six garment items for two years, but said ‘aid for trade’ should not be mixed up.

Bangladesh does not have objection to a revised proposal if formally submitted to the WTO, Commerce Secretary Ghulam Hussain told a press briefing on Tuesday. He was flanked by Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and officials from WTO.

Bangladesh along with Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Argentina and Peru also opposed the EU proposal last week at WTO meeting in Geneva.

Under the multilateral trade regime, privilege of duty-free access to a certain developing country must be endorsed by all WTO member countries.

Bangladesh, the second biggest textile goods exporters to the EU, enjoys duty- and quota-free market access to the market. The country earned about $18 billion by exporting readymade garment products in the last fiscal.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com