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New US visa policy may not have impact on exports

Arifur Rahaman Tuhin
26 May 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 26 May 2023 01:04:11
New US visa policy may not have impact on exports

As Bangladesh’s largest export destination USA executed a new visa policy for the county will not put any impact to the bilateral trade relations in short term, business experts have said.

As businessmen of both the countries are maintaining a good relation and also jointly working to resolve trade barriers to increase bilateral businesses, it is difficult to make any comments about the long-term impact, they said adding that the crisis would be resolved very soon.

Besides the policy likely to put an impact on foreign direct investment for a long run if the investors feel uncomfortable to invest in Bangladesh.

Terming that the new visa policy is mostly political, Foreign policy expert and Dhaka University teacher Professor Imtiaz Ahmed said that the move will not hit to the export as most of Bangladesh’s businessmen are not directly involved in politics.

“But when the US took the initiative, creating a negative impact on Bangladeshis, the investors might feel uncertainty over their return of investment. However, as the US lost their single largest dominance power, their oppositions may stand beside Bangladesh,” he added.

Commenting on the matter, former lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office Zahid Hussain said, “Now, it’s difficult to make any comment whether it will put any impact on our export or not. I think it will not create any effect shortly.”

“We have to wait to know about the long-term effect till the reactions from both the sides come,” he added.

The US is the lone country where Bangladesh exports over $10 billion annually, and thanks to the US-China ongoing conflict, brands are shifting from China to Bangladesh. Besides, the US holds top position in Bangladesh’s FDI.

The Export Promotion Bureau data shows that Bangladesh exported goods worth $10.42 billion to the US market in 2021-22 fiscal, and among those, the apparel sector earned $9.01 billion.

Despite the US’s ongoing economic crisis, Bangladesh exported over $7.95 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal, and the apparel sector earned nearly $7 billion of the total. The sectors including home textile, leather and leather goods and jute and jute goods also earned significantly from the US market.

On May 24, Secretary Of State Antony J Blinken announced that his country issued a new visa policy to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.

“Under this policy, the United States will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh,” he said at the statement.

Besides, the US Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and seven of its current and former officials on December 10, 2021 citing serious human rights violations.

On May 11 last year, USAID’s Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman said that his country cut Bangladesh’s name from the US International Development Finance Corporation because of concerns about labour rights violations.

Despite the US move, its cotton exporters are highly interested to increase their export to Bangladesh. Also, Bangladesh’s government removed all barriers for smooth cotton trade.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan said the new visa policy will not put any impact to the bilateral trade relations.

“We are jointly working with the US businesses to solve the barriers as well as working to secure duty-free market access to the US for the country’s cotton made clothes.”

Esrat Jahan Chowdhry, Chief Executive Officer of Tulika Eco and Director of the Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters Association said that she recently visited US and found they are highly interested to increase business with Bangladesh.

“The US-Bangladesh ongoing relations are still political and it has no linkage with the business. But, the government and other political leaders should resolve the matter as soon to avoid any further tougher situation.”