The New Nation | 3 Feb 09
Bangladesh to resume TIFA negotiation talks with US
NATION BUSINESS REPORT
Bangladesh will resume the pending talks with the United States on reaching a deal—Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)—as new governments in both the countries have assumed offices.
The formal resumption of negotiation will take place during the visit of US Senior Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher to Bangladesh. Boucher is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on February 8 for a three-day visit, officials said.
This is the first high-level visit by an American dignitary since the installation of the two new governments in Dhaka and Washington in January this year.
Mr. Boucher will hold crucial meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and some other leaders of the government, Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain said.
"This visit may set the tone for US-Bangladesh relations in the coming days, especially after assumption of office by the two governments - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government in Bangladesh and the Barak Obama administration in the United States," a foreign ministry official said.
The issues of cooperation between Bangladesh and the United States in counter-terrorism as well as striking a deal on the proposed Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) would feature prominently in the talks during Boucher’s visit.
The Awami League-led government has already expressed its willingness to form a regional task force to tackle terrorism and resume negotiations on TIFA which have remained stalled after a few rounds of talk since 2003.
Commerce Minister of Bangladesh Faruk Khan said the Awami League-led government is ready to resume the suspended negotiations on the proposed agreement when the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, James F Moriarty, called on him in the ministry in the Dhaka last week.
"We are going to resume TIFA talks based on an already prepared position paper soon after necessary exercise at the government’s political level," the minister told reporters when he was asked about the signing of the agreement.
If such an agreement is signed, the two countries will constitute a joint council on trade and investment to cover a wide range of issues such as intellectual property, labor and environment, and cooperation in the area of small and medium enterprises.
"It (agreement) will be helpful for Bangladesh to increase both trade and investment," Moriarty said after his meeting with the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Shafique Ahmed on the same day.
The latest and third rounds of negotiation on TIFA were held in Dhaka in February 2005, preceded by two other rounds in March 2004 and August 2003, officials said.