TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

United States New Partnership for Development Act: views from Asia

Saturday, 02 August 2008

Source: The New Nation (Bangladesh)

Passage of New Partnership for Development Act (NPDA), with proposed changes of exclusion of Bangladesh and Cambodia made trousers, knit and non-knit shirts from the duty free entry in the US market, will bring no benefit for Bangladesh as more than 70 per cent of readymade garment export depends on the three items, stakeholders say.

"If the NPDA passes excluding Bangladesh made trousers, knit and non-knit shirts, there will be no benefit of us. Our 70 per cent RMG export depends on those," president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told The New Nation yesterday.

"All these are under negotiation, we have to raise strong voice, support in favour of the bill. We will send a letter shortly to our lobbyist in Washington I this regard," he added.

He said, "African countries wanted to exclude Bangladesh and Cambodia from the beneficiary of the NPDA. But we are trying to raise support so that the bill can be passed with full benefit for Bangladesh."

Both the African countries and the US textile lobby are opposing the passage of NPDA fearing a blow from the RMG giant Bangladesh and Cambodia. The fear that duty free access of RMG from the two countries to the US market may result in shut down of many RMG units in US and AGOA countries.

Congressman Jim McDermott, who introduced the NPDA 2007 in the US Senate last October, wrote to the six African Ambassadors early this month proposing some changes in the Act, to obtain their support.

Informed sources said the Ministry of Commerce is getting preparation to formally protest such change in the bill. Preparing a paper is underway which will be send to the Congressman Jim McDermott by official channel.

Executive Director of CPD Dr Mustafizur Rahman said passage of NPDA with the proposed change will be useless for Bangladesh. He said more than 70 percent of RMG export from Bangladesh is of the three items.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh's Commercial Counsellor in USA Kazi Shamsul Alam in a recent letter to the Ministry of Commerce quoting McDermott's letter to the six African Ambassadors said, "It was very clear from the very outset that some compromise would be necessary to get support of the AGOA countries to the bill."

"Without their support, the bill will have no chance of passage in the congress," he said. "The proposal is a framework to negotiate with all the stakeholders of the bill," McDermott said.

McDermott introduced the NPDA bill to allow duty free access of products of least developed countries to the US market which now facing hectic opposition from in and outside of the USA as well as the African countries.