New Biden administration: Dhaka hopeful for Rohingya repatriation, restoring GSP facilities, The Daily Star, January 26, 2021
Dhaka sees a ray of hope for Rohingya repatriation and restoring GSP facilities as the new US President Joe Biden is focusing on promoting democratic institutions, human rights and is supportive of the developing countries’ cause.
“Our expectation from the Biden Administration is indeed reasonably higher and we believe, US will again lead the world in achieving core values and principles,” said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.
He said Biden appears to be more supportive to the causes of the developing world — climate change, trade facilitation, Covid-19 response and migration.
“Good news is, there are indications that the new Administration will look into the issue of genocide in the Rakhaine state and hopefully will proactively take action for their safe return,” Momen said at a webinar on US-Bangladesh Relationship organized by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) yesterday.
There are about a million Rohingyas, who fled military atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017 and are now sheltered in Bangladesh.
At the event, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said issues like democratic institution building, human rights, media freedom, labour rights and rule of law would be priority areas of the new US Administration.
“A more human rights-based approach by the new US Administration might provide new impetus in resolving the Rohingya crisis, principally through stronger political involvement but also through extended humanitarian support.
BEI President M Humayun Kabir said the US discontinued GSP following the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. Today, as the US Congress will soon revise the GSP policy, it should reconsider providing the facilities to Bangladesh. In that case, Bangladesh and the US both can benefit out of it.
As the new Biden administration is returning to the multilateral forums including the World Health Organization and Paris accord, it is time that Bangladesh identified all the areas of cooperation and take the relationship to a higher level, he said.
Centre for Policy Dialogue Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan said there is a possibility for Bangladesh to take its export to the US to $15 billion from $5 billion today if the GSP facilities are restored.
Prime Minister’s Private Sector Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman said as trade privileges would not exist after Bangladesh graduates from the LDC category by 2024, the businesses should prepare accordingly to face the challenges.
He thinks it is more a communication problem than that of real problem of human rights or labour rights violations on the ground as “we have zero tolerance on corruption, human rights and terrorism.”
US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Earl R Miller said US and Bangladesh will work together to fight Rohingya crisis, human trafficking and climate change threats together.
There is immense untapped potential for trade, he said, adding that many US companies are keen to invest in Bangladesh. They, however, look at the issues of labour rights, business environment and human rights.
Former Ambassador Farooq Sobhan, who presented keynote paper, said with Biden in power, there are more scopes of cooperation, and Bangladesh needs to identify the areas of cooperation and work accordingly.