US wants transparent business environment in BD

‘Countering unfair trade barriers remains priority’

16 Jan 2018, 15:33

NTV Online

Chittagong: US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat on Tuesday laid emphasis on a transparent business environment and to help ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses in Bangladesh which will ultimately help all businesses.

‘I want to work with all of you, our partners in industry, to help promote a level playing field and to help ensure the best US products and services contribute to Bangladesh’s impressive economic growth story,’ she said.

Ambassador Bernicat was addressing at a function at Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI). CCCI President Mahbhubul Alam also spoke.

The United States is the top single-country export destination for Bangladeshi products and the bilateral trade in goods in 2016 reached $6.8 billion which the US views as impressive.

‘That’s almost double what our trade was just 10 years ago. However, our two-way trade relationship remains heavily in favor of Bangladesh,’ said Ambassador Bernicat.

While the United States imported $5.9 billion of products from Bangladesh in 2016, the US exported just $895 million worth of goods the same year.

Bernicat said during her nearly three years in Bangladesh, one of her top priorities has been to advocate and fight for U.S. companies and to help counter unfair trade barriers.

‘U.S. business does well here, but it can do so much better. Unfair trade barriers manifest themselves in a variety of ways here,’ she said mentioning high tariffs; unnecessary or arbitrary regulations; biased tendering processes; cumbersome customs procedures; unreasonable tax audits; corruption; and sanitary and phytosanitary requirements that lack scientific basis.

The US envoy said these barriers affect not only U.S. businesses but hinder Bangladesh’s own economic growth.

She said promoting proper enforcement of labor rights and worker safety is not only the right thing to do - it is the foundation for free and fair trade.

‘Bangladesh has made great strides on workplace safety in recent years, with the assistance of the Alliance and Accord, but there is still more work to be done, especially on labor rights,’ Ambassador Bernicat observed.

She strongly encouraged factory owners and government officials here in Chittagong to engage in an honest and transparent discussion with workers and labor leaders to resolve some of the long-standing disputes.

Earlier, the US envoy visited the Chittagong Port and said it was a wonderful reminder of all the hard work that it takes to move products from the sea to their homes.

‘The men and women of Chittagong truly form the backbone of Bangladesh’s economy and a key link in the global economy, and I look forward to hearing from all of you about the opportunities and challenges facing Chittagong,’ said the US Ambassador.

Mentioning that the US is the largest investor in Bangladesh, she said U.S. companies are bringing in some of the best and most innovative technologies to Bangladesh. ‘Trade and investment is, in a real sense, the gift that keeps on giving.’