Bangladesh will seek Generalised System of Preference (GSP)-plus facility from the European Union (EU) in the upcoming Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), as the country is set to graduate as a developing nation within a few years, officials said. On the other hand, the EU is likely to discuss issues like Bangladesh’s press freedom, extra-judicial killing, and some trade barriers between the two sides, they also said. Bangladesh and the EU are going to sit in the JCM, to be held at Economic Relations Division (ERD) in Dhaka on October 21. Before it, three sub-groups of the EU-Bangladesh JCM will sit on October 17 and 20 to formalise the agreed points for the final meeting. A delegation of the EU from the European Commission headquarters will visit Bangladesh for taking part in the JCM.

Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) Md. Shafiqul Islam told that Bangladesh will mainly seek GSP-Plus facility for its export to the EU countries. “Besides, we will also seek higher prices for local ready-made garment (RMG) products in the EU markets, as Bangladesh has made its factories labour-compliant as per the EU guideline,” he added. Another additional Secretary of the MoC said Bangladesh will request the EU to continue the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) facility for the country even after its graduation from a least development country (LDC) to a developing one by 2024. “We’ll also request the EU to reform the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a way that it will not affect the newly-graduated countries like Bangladesh in near future.” In the JCM, Bangladesh will seek continuation of some existing benefits along with some fresh facilities for exporting its goods to the European market, the official further said. Meanwhile, the EU delegation will emphasise issues like Bangladesh’s human rights, democracy, good governance, freedom of expression, freedom of press, and role of civil society etc., the ERD official opined.

Besides, the EU will also want to know about the situation regarding children, women, labour, and marginalised people here. A co-chair of the sub-groups of the EU-Bangladesh JCM said they will try to formulise next course of actions, and clear up the barriers on the way to augmenting bilateral trade, economic cooperation and development. “We are hopeful of continuing the EU’s trade facilities in its markets after Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status,” he added. In the final meeting on October 21, the JCM co-chairs – the ERD secretary and the EU delegation head – will wrap-up the all the meetings.