Bangladesh will once again urge the US and other developed countries at the World Trade Organisation summit next month to give duty-free access to its garment exports, a Bangladeshi newspaper has reported.
“We are trying to get duty-free entry for garment items to the US,” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said at a media briefing in Dhaka on the country’s preparations to attend the 10th WTO ministerial conference in Kenya in December.
Bangladesh is one of the highest tax paying nations in the American market and the country’s garment exports to the US have maintained buoyant growth, he said.
The minister said the higher rate of duty and suspension of trade privileges could not stop the growth of garment exports to the US. Ahmed, who is also the coordinator for the least-developed countries (LDCs) in the WTO summit, will lead the 19-member Bangladesh delegation.
According to the WTO’s fifth ministerial conference in Hong Kong in 2005, the developed countries were supposed to give duty-free access to 97 per cent of products originating in the LDCs.
The duty-free package was also gradually supposed to become 100 per cent from 97 per cent.
Many developed and developing countries have started allowing duty-free access to all products from the LDCs, including Bangladesh. But the US is still following the 97 per cent-package for Bangladesh, keeping apparel items within the remaining 3 per cent, out of the purview of the duty benefits.
Bangladeshi businesses have to pay 15.62 per cent duty for export of garments to the US, whereas Vietnam pays 8.38 per cent, China 3 per cent and Hong Kong 1.16 per cent.
Bangladesh paid $ 860 million in duties to the US government after exporting apparels worth $ 5.59 billion last fiscal year. The country paid $ 4.1 billion in duties to the US customs in the last five years.
Of the total annual exports to the US from Bangladesh, apparel accounts for 95 per cent. Bangladesh’s garment exports to the US increased 17.58 per cent year-on-year to $ 1.81 billion between July and October, according to the Export Promotion Bureau. (SH)