BGMEA delegation visits WTO Director General
A delegation from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) led by its President Faruque Hassan met with the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Geneva on February 25 .
This was the first-ever official bilateral meeting of a BGMEA delegation with the Director General of the WTO, which included BGMEA Directors Asif Ashraf, Tanvir Ahmed and Abdullah Hil Rakib.
Dr. Bright Okogu, Chief of Staff, WTO Director General’s Office; Stephen Fevrier, Senior Advisor to the Director General of the WTO; Shishir Priyadarshi, director of the development division; and Taufiqur Rahman, Head of LDC Unit, WTO were also present at the meeting.
They discussed trade-related issues, in particular measures regarding a smoother transition for graduating LDCs, including a 10-year transition period and continued trade-related international support.
During the discussion, BGMEA Chairman Faruqeu Hassan said that the pandemic has affected all economies where LDCs are more vulnerable to the crisis as they face huge health and economic shocks.
Under such circumstances, Bangladesh will need even more flexibility than before and longer preparatory periods to achieve a smooth transition and a sustainable graduation from LDC status, he said.
The BGMEA delegation urged the WTO to mobilize the support of WTO members for the extension of the transition period.
BGMEA Chairman Faruque Hassan thanked the WTO for helping Bangladesh improve its trade capacity and competitiveness.
The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) of the WTO provided trade-related support exclusively to LDCs and BGMEA to establish the Innovation, Efficiency and OSH Hub with the support of EIF II, it said. he informed the DG of the WTO.
The BGMEA chief stressed the need for more supportive measures from developed countries to prepare for the challenges of a developing country and make the supply chain more sustainable.
He highlighted supports, including the special financing scheme for SMEs and technical and financial assistance for technology adoption, retraining and upskilling of people, and internal capacity building to reduce emissions and promote responsible and cleaner production.
The BGMEA President also called for support from the WTO in building trade negotiation capacity.
“We need to work on building our internal capacity in trade negotiation and economic diplomacy,” he added.
He urged the WTO to provide technical assistance to undertake feasibility research on FTAs and RTAs.
Faruqeu Hassan called for the intervention of the WTO to ensure due diligence in trade in trade terms in collaboration with its signatory members and global forums like WCO or UNCTAD or ICC.
“A number of global brands have gone bankrupt, leaving their suppliers in limbo over payments. COVID has revealed business and compliance weaknesses in cross-border transactions.”
WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took note of the issues raised during the meeting and assured the cooperation and support of the WTO in this regard.