Published: Monday, November 25, 2013
aftabul islamAftab Ul Islam
IF everything proceeds as per plan, then Bangladesh will most likely sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) with the United States today.
In the beginning I would like to stress upon the fact that Ticfa is a platform given by a bilateral contract. It’s not mandatory for any of the signatories to function under any obligations. The main objectives of Ticfa are to address issues and impediments, and analyse trade and commercial relations between two countries. Moreover, it creates scope for taking a critical subject to the respective government authorities that fast tracks a bilateral agreement between them. As for the number of meetings to be held by two the countries, it can be based on the need of the two countries, and will meet not once but 3-4 times a year if required. There are countless Ticfas existing in today’s world that have been proved to be beneficial.
Discussions on the necessity of Ticfa between US and Bangladesh had begun over a decade ago, and it’s mainly due to the complex and slow bureaucratic response from Bangladesh side that the agreement had been hanging in the air for so long. Such delay with regard to signing of the Ticfa along with numerous trade agreements points out an important fact, which is that Bangladesh should have shifted its focus to trade and economic diplomacy from politics oriented diplomacy. There should have been a coordinated approach undertaken by our government and the private sector for signing Ticfa.
Three important features of Ticfa are about labour condition, compliance and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) matters. It is important to mention that Bangladesh will benefit from all the aforementioned features, and if proper actions are taken as per the agreement guidelines then it will be able to regain its suspended GSP facilities too. On top of it, Bangladesh will also have the opportunity to address the 3% of the products on which it draws no GSP benefits too.
On the subject of the poll-time interim government’s signing the Ticfa I hold the view that the poll-time government in Bangladesh is constitutionally legal for signing such treaty.
Linking trade with environment and linking labour issues with trade are the two most important areas where Bangladesh along with other LDC countries have protested to the WTO as well as asked for more time. In this regard I believe that through a joint-cooperation achieved through Ticfa Bangladesh can open new doors for direct foreign investments in Bangladesh.
Trade agreements are becoming challenging with the times. Bangladesh must be prepared to meet the challenges in order to gain the advantages from Ticfa. The need for Ticfa is there, and it can succeed through an all-out effort undertaken by our bureaucracy and the private sector. Ticfa, if negotiated with diplomatic and economic astuteness, can only be good for Bangladesh.
The writer is the president of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AMCHAM).http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/why-ticfa/