Draft TIFA between USA and Bangladesh leaked: A quick analysis

Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between USA and Bangladesh Leaked: A Quick Analysis

Ziaul Hoque Mukta

20 February 2005

USA is forcing Bangladesh to sign a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), that will bind Bangladesh to work with USA on the successful completion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and will provide extra facilities to USA "without prejudice to each party’s rights and obligations" under the WTO. The agreement is an attack on the growing multilateral trading system of the world.

We have received (leaked) the draft document this morning.

The agreement is about to establish a "US-Bangladesh Council" on trade and investment issues. This council will elude the political authority and establish different working group and will "identify and work toward the removal of impediments to trade and investment flows". Though the agreement "desire to promote an attractive investment climate and expand trade in goods and services", it also says about "adequate and effective protection and enforcement" of IPR [obligations contained in the TRIPS] and "adequate and effective protection and enforcement of labour laws and improving the observance internationally recognized core labour standards". The document also reads that the "... agreement shall be without prejudice to the domestic law of either party or the rights and obligations of either party under any other agreement".

This agreement is like a cave in which Bangladesh can enter only, and there is no exit. The document contains, "this agreement shall remain in force unless terminated by mutual consent of the parties".

Though the interest of these two countries are different in WTO trade negotiations, the short-term objective of this agreement is about "strengthening cooperative efforts to complete successfully the Doha Development Agenda". This bindings will undermine the LDC and G90 initiatives in the Hong Kong Ministerial.

The long-term objective of this agreement is to refuse Bangladesh to accept the benefits of the multilateral trade system. The document reads, "this Agreement is without prejudice to each Party’s rights and obligations, where applicable, under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO and the agreements, understandings, and other instruments relating thereto or concluded under the auspices of the WTO".

This agreement also acknowledges the bilateral agreement done between Bangladesh and USA on March 12, 1986.

We call upon all social-political movements to take initiative to resist this anti-people agreement.

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