No food grain export ban, extend TRIPS waiver
Bangladesh once again called on nations not to impose any restrictions on their food grain exports and called for its TRIPS waiver to be maintained until December 31, 2032, in order to save the lives of people and newborns.
The current food crisis can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies for people, especially newborns, according to world leaders.
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Financially insolvent consumers cannot afford to buy expensive imported food products in their respective markets due to export bans, Trade Minister Tipu Munshi said.
He was speaking to reporters during a briefing after a discussion on emergency responses to the food crisis on the second day of the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Russian-Ukrainian war has had a serious impact on the global food supply chain, with some major producing countries stockpiling or imposing export bans to fortify their own stocks for the future. As a result, food prices have already skyrocketed in many countries.
For example, Indonesia had recently imposed a ban on palm oil exports, although it was later lifted.
Every year, two million newborn babies, alongside 30,000 born to Rohingya parents, are added to the current population of Bangladesh.
Thus, feeding such a large population and maintaining nutritional standards will be difficult if food prices rise due to any sudden export bans on food grains by major producing countries.
The minister also demanded that world leaders extend the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for Bangladesh so that the country can prepare for the production of generic drugs.
The WTO has granted the TRIPS waiver to least-developed countries (LDCs) until December 2032.
Bangladesh will be excluded from the list of beneficiaries of the TRIPS Agreement once it obtains developing country status from the United Nations on November 24, 2026.
Tipu Munshi also said that Singapore has expressed interest in signing a free trade agreement with Bangladesh.
In addition, Nepal has also demanded tariff concessions on the export of certain goods to Bangladesh and activation of a motor vehicle agreement for smooth movement of people between the South Asian Association nations. regional cooperation, said the minister.
He held meetings with Singapore and Nepal on the sidelines of the conference.
Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Policy Dialogue, said the United States is advocating for country-specific trade benefits for exiting countries.
“However, this might not be beneficial for exiting countries like Bangladesh. Here, further negotiations are needed for a conclusion to be reached by LDCs, including those due to exit,” he said.
LDCs should form a working group to negotiate the extension, whether for six or nine years, he added.
However, Bangladesh should also hold negotiations to enjoy trade benefits as a developing country due to the factors amid which it is pulling out, Rahman said.
TRIPS is very important this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. World leaders could reach a consensus on removing the need to have licenses for the production of vaccines by countries, as this was a very vital element of health.
Md Jashim Uddin, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the private sector in Bangladesh also wants the extension of the TRIPS waiver for the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. .
Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, and Hafizur Rahman, Director General of the WTO Unit of the Ministry of Commerce, were also present at the press conference.