Bangladesh is known as a flood affected country. Every eight to ten years cycle, the country has been affected by a devastating flood. Besides this, every year several flash floods affect huge areas of Bangladesh. People across the world know that Bangladesh is a flood affected country and that it needs foreign aid to sustain and survive with the affected people.
Most of the countries in the world help Bangladesh and its people to survive from flood. Even schoolchildren of USA have helped Bangladeshi flood affected people from save from their pocket money for lunch. It is the reality of Bangladesh for the world and it can be said that, people of the world have sympathy to Bangladesh as a flood affected county.
But, now there is something strange going on. The people of the world have heard recently that Bangladesh has opposed the European Union in giving relief and facility to Pakistan for their flood affected people. It is easily imaginable as to what and how the same people will think about Bangladesh.
Although Bangladesh has not done it, they have to face propaganda like this one.
European Union has given a proposal to Pakistan that they want to help Pakistan as a flood affected country through the duty free access of readymade garment in their market. Bangladesh opposed it. Not only Bangladesh but also others LDC countries have opposed it. These countries stated that according to WTO, European Union cannot do this. They cannot mix-up aid and trade, – Trade is trade and aid is aid. Even the Commerce minister of Bangladesh categorically said that Bangladesh will not support any international move on aid for trade. Our position is clear; one should not mix aid with trade.
As a developing country, Pakistan is not entitled to duty-free access to the European Union market. If Pakistan gets this facility in the name of the flood aid, very naturally a country like Bangladesh will face bad competition in the EU market. As Pakistan is a cotton producing country, it will definitely enjoy a competitive advantage over Bangladesh, who is the second biggest textile good exporters to the EU. Bangladesh has earned about $18 billion by exporting and hence quite naturally, the country is thinking about its readymade garment products’ future in EU.
In the meantime India has also showed softness to Pakistan about this situation. Bangladesh is also soft and worried about the flood affected people of Pakistan and has sent food and medical aid to Pakistan. All that Bangladesh is suggesting is that if European Union wants to help the flood affected people of Pakistan, they can give their aid but they cannot violate the rule of trade of WTO. They cannot give them duty and quota free access of readymade Garment product in the name of a help to the flood affected people.
As Bangladesh a vulnerable climate affected country, Sheikh Hasina is fighting for climate affected people of the world. So it does not match with Bangladesh that they themselves are against the flood affected people of Pakistan or that they are trying to oppose the EU aid. The position of Bangladesh is very clear that, they do not want to mix up trade with aid.
Swadesh Roy is the Executive editor of Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at email@example.com.