Bangladeshi garment manufacturers recently urged the US Government and their own to sign a cotton purchase agreement to avail duty privileges on export of apparel products to US markets and ship more products, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Siddiqur Rahman, who met US Ambassador in Dhaka Earl R Miller.

Ambassador Miller discussed various trade issues with apparel exporters at the BGMEA office, according to a report. If the US agrees to the proposal, local millers will import cotton from the US under a special arrangement for Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers to make garment items from the yarn and fabrics for American customers, Rahman said. Two local spinning mills have already proposed that the government allow them to set up mills in the United States to produce yarn there and make garment items in Bangladesh. But, the proposals were not approved, Rahman said.

Such trading arrangement in garment business had been incorporated in the now-scrapped Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement keeping Vietnam in mind. Bangladesh does not produce cotton and meets 98 per cent of the requirement through imports. Of the imports, 40 per cent is procured from India and nearly 10 per cent from the United States. If the United States agrees to our proposal, we will increase the cotton import from there, Rahman said.

The BGMEA also proposed that the United States reinstate the generalised system of preferences that was scrapped for Bangladesh in 2013 over poor labour rights and workplace safety issues.