Foreign minister Dipu Moni Sunday said, the government will consider appointing a lobbyist firm in the US to secure preferential benefit and retain the existing facilities in its market.
"We may appoint a lobbyist in the US to protect our interest and to get more preferential facilities like duty and quota-free access to the American market," Dipu told reporters at a briefing in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"We must consider appointing a lobbyist firm as many countries have such firms in the US to look after the overall business interests of the countries concerned," she added.
The foreign minister said this after holding a meeting with a visiting US Congressional delegation, led by Jack Kingston, at the state guesthouse Padma.
Dipu, quoting the Congressmen, said the lobbyist firm would be appointed in the US for projecting Bangladesh's achievements in the US Congress, retain existing duty facility under GSP(Generalised System of Preference) and pursue duty and quota-free market access for Bangladeshi products.
The US Congressional delegation believes that Bangladesh should get duty and quota- free access to the US market, said Dipu Moni.
The US Congressional delegation arrived in Dhaka on Saturday on a brief visit to discuss trade issues including the GSP facility with top government officials and garment leaders of Bangladesh.
The other delegation members are Representative Ed Whitfield (Republican-Kentucky), Representative Scott Tipton (Republican-Colorado) and Representative Adam Schiff (Republican-California).
Quoting the US Congressmen, the foreign minister said the countries having lobbyists get better results in the US.
On the contentious issue of retaining GSP facility in the US, the foreign minister said the US Congressmen are "positive of our cause and we're hopeful of retaining the tariff facility under the GSP scheme."
"We have elaborated to the US team on our achievements made on various issues like workers' safety and in other areas. A comprehensive picture of development and women employment taking place in the country's garment sector over the years will be given to the US government and lawmakers soon," Dipu told the reporters.
The delegation did not express any concern over the workers' safety issue, but they wanted to know about it. They also wanted to be aware of right to do trade unionism, Dipu said.
She said the delegation members agreed that accidents take place even in developed countries, while there should be coordinated efforts to bring down casualties into a zero level.
"We are putting in our best efforts and I have informed them about the progress to that end," the minister said.
Asked, Dipu Moni said the fire incident that took place Saturday might be pre-planned.
"We will investigate the incident."
Responding to another question, she said the ensuing general election and Ticfa issues did not come up for discussions due to time constraint.
Meanwhile, apparel exporters in the country hailed the move to appoint a lobbyist firm in the US as a welcome step.
"We must have the lobbyist firm in the US as many countries including India, Pakistan and Vietnam have their own to serve the interests of the countries concerned," Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury (Parvez), former President, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told the FE.
He, said, BGMEA had a lobbyist firm in the US from 2002 to 2009.
"Due to huge cost and uncertainty over getting duty and quota-free market access in the US for Bangladeshi apparels, the BGMEA had to discontinue the services of the lobbyist firm," Parvez said.
Meanwhile, UNB adds: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday stressed the importance of smooth continuation of democratic process in the country for its rapid progress.
"The democratic process should go ahead smoothly as no country could achieve its desired goal without it," she said when a five-member US Congressional delegation led by Jack Kingston called on her at her official residence Ganobhaban in the morning.
After the meeting, PM's Deputy Press Secretary Bijan Lal Deb briefed reporters.
UNB quoted the Prime Minister as saying that her government has been working relentlessly to put democracy on a strong foot. "We believe in people's rights to vote and their empowerment," she said.
In this connection, Hasina mentioned that all the elections held during the last four years of the present government were held in a free, fair and neutral manner and none could raise a single allegation in this regard.
Sheikh Hasina said the aim of her government is to ensure the welfare of the country's people by providing them with basic needs, including education, healthcare, food and nutrition. "To achieve the goal, we need the support of all, including the United States," she said.
In her previous term, the Prime Minister said, initiatives had been taken to boost the US investment in the country. As part of that, the US investment increased manifold in the last couple of years, she said.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina mentioned Meghnaghat and Haripur power plants which were built with the US investment.
Mentioning that her government is giving priority to the private sector for the country's development, she said there is a huge prospect of investment in infrastructure, telecommunication, energy and agro-processing sectors.
The US Congressional team lauded Bangladesh's tremendous success in various sectors, including agriculture, education and women empowerment. They also praised the contributions of Bangladesh to US peacekeeping missions by providing troops.
The US Congressional delegation also laid emphasis on strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.
Ambassador at-Large M Ziauddin, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Shaikh Md Wahid Uz Zaman, PMO Secretary Molla Waheeduzzman, PM's Special Assistant Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena were also present on the occasion.