Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ticfa: a blow to IT, pharma industry

Left parties express concern over deal with US

The Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa), due to be signed with the US, will harm the countries pharmaceuticals and IT sector, two left-wing parties said yesterday.
The deal would push Bangladesh to enforce intellectual property rights in line with World Trade Organisation conventions, which would “seriously hurt the pharmaceuticals industry and affect the IT sector”, Shah Alam, acting general secretary of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), said.
“It will lead to a hike in medicine and IT prices — we want the government to back out from the deal.”
Alam’s comments came at a rally brought out by the CPB and the Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB) in front of the Press Club to protest the decision to sign the deal, said to boost trade and investment between the two countries.
Some demonstrators carried placards that termed the deal to be “anti-people”.
The deal may also require Bangladesh to open its service sector to US investors.
The government’s decision to sign the deal, under which a bilateral forum will be formed, came amid threats from the US to scrap or reduce the Bangladesh’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility to the US market.
Some economists and businessmen said the cabinet nod on Ticfa might influence the US’s verdict on the GSP facility, due this month.
“It is being said that the accord will help GSP retention, but GSP in not even mentioned there, at all. There is no indication that it will be beneficial for our garment industry,” said Alam.
“We have to safeguard the interests of our growing economy, and the signing of Ticfa will hold back the pace of our economic development,” he said, terming the deal to be “anti-state”.
He also said the US is interested in signing the deal to impose economic and military control over South Asia.
“The US economy is losing its strengths. It is now trying to recover its economy by exerting military control over countries.”
Bazlur Rashid Firoz, central committee member of SPB, said the US is eager to grab resources. “It keeps countries under control through various pacts so that it can exploit resources.”
“The enforcement of intellectual property rights laws will lead to a spiral in prices of medicine and curtail the access of healthcare to a majority of our people.”