The Bangladesh government has used the first meeting of the Forum on Trade and Investment with the US to announce plans to eliminate tariffs and other charges on fire safety equipment. The decision comes after North American apparel retailers and importers last month expressed their concerns that efforts to improve safety in Bangladeshi garment factories are being hampered by high tariffs of up to 61 per cent on imports of essential building and fire safety equipment such as sprinklers and fire doors.
No time frame has been put on the move, but it should make the costs of building remediation less expensive for factories and encourage critical investment into these products. The United States-Bangladesh forum on trade and investment gives the two governments a mechanism under which to discuss trade and investment issues as well as areas of co-operation. It is also seen as a key measure in helping to restore preferential tariffs for exports from the Asian country.
Other issues discussed by the two countries included investment rules, intellectual property protection, fumigation requirements for cotton imports into Bangladesh, and economic development and cooperation in the South and Southeast Asia region.