Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The European Parliament is set to hold a discussion on Wednesday on the working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories. The discussion on Bangladesh is part of a three-day plenary session starting on Monday.

 Bangladesh has started taking all necessary preparations before replying to a notice of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) by January 31, a top official said in Dhaka. “A lot of work has been done over the last four years regarding labour rights in Bangladesh. We have reviewed what will be included in the reply to the USTR notice,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told a press briefing on Sunday after a meeting with the stakeholders.

Bangladesh could achieve 8.0 to 10 per cent annual growth of its gross domestic product (GDP), had it carried out major reforms about public expenditure and governance sectors, said World Bank (WB) Country Director Ellen Goldstein.

Commerce Minister GM Quader yesterday said Bangladesh’s delay in signing the TICFA might be related to the US bid to scrap the generalised system of preferences (GSP). “The recent US move on the GSP might have indirectly been linked to the TICFA [Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement],” said Quader. 

Bangladesh’s exports, particularly export of readymade garment, to European Union are likely to be affected in long term if India and EU sign a proposed free trade agreement, said officials of the Bangladesh Tariff Commission. In short term, Bangladesh’s exports may not be affected as most of its products enjoy duty-free facility to EU market under its Everything But Arms scheme but in long term, exports to the region may be suffered if Bangladesh fails to diversify its export basket, they said. 

The demand for US dollars may rise from next month as deferred payments for petroleum products are set to be matured along with remitting annual dividend payments of multinational companies, officials said. 

Stocks declined on Sunday with the lowest turnover in the last six and a half months as investors were reluctant to make fresh investment in the market. Turnover on the premier bourse lost 18.58 percent to BDT 1.24 billion, compared to the previous day. Turnover on Chittagong Stock Exchange stood at BDT 168.4 million. 

BBN/SSR/AD-14Jan13-8:40 am (BST)