Zee News (India) | 14 March 2007
Bangladesh likely to sign TIFA with US: Report
Dhaka, Mar 12: Bangladesh is likely sign the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United
States agreeing to Washington’s insistence of including "corruption" issue in the text.
TIFA talks were stalled since February 2005 as the immediate-past government was not willing to incorporate the "corruption" issue in the main text at US insistence, fearing that it would project Bangladesh as a corrupt country abroad, Commerce Ministry officials said.
"We have now budged from our earlier position given the realities both in local and international perspectives, and weighing the benefit of close association with a big trading partner like the US," the New Age newspaper quoted a high official in the ministry as saying.
Earlier, both bureaucrats and private sector representatives shared reservations on inclusion of a clause on corruption in the TIFA text.
This time the ministry would not seek any opinion from chamber bodies as most of the other issues of the TIFA were earlier discussed at various forums and agreed upon, officials said.
The Law Ministry, the New Age said, has approved the draft agreement recently with giving a note that the inclusion of word "corruption" with the agreement would not malign the country’s image as feared in the past.
Dhaka and Washington started negotiations on TIFA in March 2003 and finalised the draft text during the third round of talks in Dhaka in February 2005.
Washington inserted the words "elimination of corruption and bribery" in the Preamble of the third draft of the agreement in early 2005. The previous rounds were held in Dhaka in August 2003 and March 2004.
The negotiated draft acknowledges that the "economic divide," which exists between the US and Bangladesh, should be taken into consideration when the two countries exchange goods and services under any future trading arrangement.
The acknowledgement will pave the path for duty-free or preferential treatment of Bangladeshi products in the US market in the future, the Commerce Ministry said.