A free trade agreement (FTA) between Bangladesh and the EU will not be implemented any time soon, said Charles Whiteley, ambassador of the European Union (EU) delegation to Bangladesh.
Moreover, he stated that the bloc’s lack of interest in the matter as well as its complexity makes the signing of an FTA with Bangladesh at this time impossible.
The ambassador revealed it while speaking at an event titled “Strengthening Bangladesh-EU Trade and Economic Cooperation: Issues and Policy Priorities” at a hotel in the capital.
The Research and Policy Integration for Development (Rapid) and the private German non-profit organization FES Bangladesh, jointly organized the event.
Bangladesh is likely to graduate from LDC in 2026, and the three-year transition is long enough for the businesses and government of the country to be adapted to the post-LDC reality, he added.
“Considering the social development, Bangladesh made a huge improvement,” he added, saying that the entire focus of the country – financially, politically, and economically – has to be on GSP Plus.
“Bangladesh needs to be connected and continuously consulting with the European parliament. To be honest, Bangladesh has brilliant ambassadors in Brussels and they have the ability to be connected with the EP,” he added.
He also said that the country also needs to focus on trade diversification.
Sharifa Khan, secretary of the ERD, said that the EU has always been a good partner of Bangladesh.
“When we talk about tariffs, the Doha Round is yet to come into effect. If the Doha Round is complete and effective, there will be no more problems with tariffs,” she added.
BGMEA Director Vidiya Amrit Khan said that there are multiple areas of cooperation between the EU and Bangladesh including GSP Plus, EBA and many more.
“The RMG sector of the country recovered from Covid-19 but is again struggling due to the turbulent economy created by the Ukraine-Russia war,” she added.
She said that Bangladesh is the leader in green manufacturing but still striving for a fair price.
“The EU buyers should ensure fair prices and also support in the required sectors like technology,” she added.
BKMEA Vice President Fazlee Ehsan Shameem said that they are not afraid regarding the LDC graduation but there is room for improvement.
“We are doing everything in green manufacturing, ESG, but still struggling for fair prices,” he added.