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Tifa is contrary to national interest

Daily Star, Dhaka

Tifa is contrary to national interest

Speakers tell CPB discussion

20 March 2005

Bangladesh will lose its right to speak for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) if it signs the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) with the United States, economists at a discussion said yesterday.

They termed the agreement contrary to the national interest and urged the government not to sign it.

The Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) organised the discussion on ’Tifa and national interest of Bangladesh’ at the Shaheed Munir-Azad auditorium in the city.

The draft of the agreement was almost finalised in Dhaka on February 15 this year, said the speakers.

They said once the agreement comes into effect, Bangladesh would be alienated from the LDCs and would lose the right to settle trade-related conflicts with the USA through multilateral arbitration.

Presenting a keynote paper, CPB leader Shaheen Rahman said the Tifa calls for cooperative efforts of the two countries to implement the ’Doha Development Agenda’, which means opening the market for non-agricultural products, withdrawing subsidies from the sector and liberalising investment in service and environment sectors.

According to the agreement, Bangladesh could not support any anti-America campaign in the country and could not take any US citizen, accused of committing crimes in the country, to the national or international court, said Prof Anu Muhammad.

"This goes totally against the sovereignty of the country," he added.

President of Bangladesh Economic Association Quazi Kholiquzzaman, Prof Asif Nazrul, columnist Syed Abul Maksud, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) researcher Dr Ananya Raihan, CPB President Manzurul Ahsan Khan, General Secretary Muzahidul Islam Selim and Dilip Barua took part in the discussion. Prof MM Akash moderated the session.

The CPB also held a rally in front of its office to mark the two years of US invasion against Iraq.

The US is actually trying to occupy Iraq and many other countries in the name of establishing democracy, the leaders said at the rally.

They also called on all to be united to resist US imperialism.