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Increasing U.S.-Bangladesh Trade

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Trade and investment between the U.S. and Bangladesh is growing, said Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Michael Delaney. U.S.-Bangladesh bilateral trade exceeded $4 billion last year. At a time when global trade was faltering, Bangladesh apparel exports to the United States grew by 11 percent. The U.S. remains Bangladesh’s largest export market.

U.S. exports to Bangladesh are modest, but growing. Last year, the U.S. exported to Bangladesh $468 million in cotton, yarn, fabric, machinery, and food grains. The U.S., said Assistant Trade Representative Delaney, looks forward to boosting those numbers, including through the sale of Boeing aircraft to Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

Even though the economic trend is positive, there are additional ways to improve trade and investment between the U.S. and Bangladesh. One such mechanism is a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, or TIFA. A U.S.-Bangladesh TIFA would serve as a forum for government and business representatives to discuss economic issues of mutual interest. Its goals include improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment.

The U.S. has already signed TIFAs with more than 30 countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan. "We would like Bangladesh," said Assistant Trade Representative Delaney, "to be our next TIFA partner."

In addition to a TIFA, there are ways Bangladesh can increase its exports to the U.S. almost immediately. As a beneficiary of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP, Bangladesh can export certain goods to the U.S. with low, or no, duties. But Bangladesh has not adequately taken advantage of GSP. Despite the fact that Bangladesh could export 4,800 different products with little or no duty, Bangladesh only exported 330 GSP-eligible products to the U.S. in 2008. It is clearly in Bangladesh’s interest to diversify its exports.

Now is the time, said Assistant Trade Representative Delaney, to deepen the already strong trade and investment relationship between the U.S. and Bangladesh.