Bangladesh seeks duty-free access

Dhaka, February 8:

Bangladesh has lobbied the United States for duty-free access for its textile products in a bid to strengthen the impoverished nation’s economy, the country’s foreign minister said today.

Textiles make up about 75 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports, about $6 billion a year, mainly

to the US and Europe, according to the government’s Export Promotion Bureau.

Bangladesh used to enjoy preferential treatment in exporting textiles to the US and Europe, but lost the privilege in January 2005 after a World Trade Organisation (WTO) quota system expired.

Bangladesh now pays an average of 15 per cent in tariffs on textile exports to the US Bangladesh’s textile exporters say the sector needs duty-free access to the US and European markets for its survival. “Our exports to the US market are vital to our economy,” said foreign minister M Morshed Khan at the start of a three-day long US trade show in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. He said it was of ‘paramount importance’ for Bangladesh to get the duty free access for its textiles.