Ahmadiyya book ban wrong, unfortunate
Congressman Crowley observes
US Congressman Joseph F Crowley yesterday condemned the government ban on Ahmadiyya publications saying it was wrong, a bad precedent and unfortunate.
The government unfortunately, I believe wrongly, prohibited dissemination of materials from that sect, that is also a bad precedent, the congressman told the Probashi Bangladesh Nagorik Committee, an organisatoin of expatriates in the US, at Hotel Sheraton.
You ought to be concerned about religious harmony, though the allegations of religious intolerance are not always the reality, he said.
He said a crucial aspect of democracy is that in spite of the rule of the majority, the interest of the minorities has to be protected.
Also speaking on the occasion, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Moudud Ahmed urged the congressman not to be misled by propaganda. He said that a certain group, which is dissatisfied after losing the previous elections, was spreading this propaganda.
In a separate programme of the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) on RMG Export of Bangladesh at Sonargaon Hotel,
He said Bangladeshs being the worlds most corrupt nation for three consecutive years is an ominous sign and it needs to be addressed,.
The lack of transparency in awarding contracts is another issue affecting trade and investment in Bangladesh, and all these are leaving a negative impression on the US, he told
Crowley also mentioned that presently the US has a huge trade deficit with Bangladesh, which needs to be closed.
He also praised garment exporters for creating job opportunities for the women and Bangladesh for being a moderate Muslim nation.
Bangladesh is a tolerant nation having a liberal, open and democratic society. We need Bangladesh more as a friend today than in the past, said the lawmaker, who is the founder and co-chair of Congressional Caucus on Bangladesh pursuing Bangladeshs interest in the US.
He dismissed the notion that Bangladeshs demand for a preferential access to the US market is linked with the export of natural gas.
BGMEA President Quazi Moniruzzaman highlighted the challenges of the industry in the quota-free trade regime, barely a year away.
Because of the upcoming changes in global business, it might not be possible for us to survive if the US does not allow preferential access of the Bangladesh garment products to its market, he said.
The privileges offered by the US to Bangladeshs rival countries have created an uneven playing field for Dhaka.
As a result, Bangladeshs export to the US market has reduced by 18 percent in 2003 compared to 2001 in terms of value.
The USTDA-2000, NAFTA, bilateral agreements between the US and many other countries like Jordan, Israel have made Bangladeshs export highly competitive, he said.
The US abolished quota on 29 apparel categories on January 1, 2002, which helped only China to increase its exports in these categories by $980m to the US. But the rest of the countries experienced an export slump to the tune of $813m due to the quota removal, said the BGMEA president.
China, now fifth largest apparel exporter, might see a 150 percent increase in their overall textile and clothing exports for the quota phase-out, he feared.
According to a World Bank estimate, China will control nearly half of the worlds clothing by 2010.
Crowley meanwhile explained that Bangladesh missed out on the Trade Development Act 2000 (TDA) mostly because Dhaka did not resolutely pursue its inclusion in the trade bill.
Under the TDA, some 72 Caribbean and African countries, including few LDCs, have been granted preferential market access to the US.
He pointed out that at the time of enacting the TDA 2000 there was no lobbyist for Bangladesh to plead its case with the US authorities.