Israt Jahan Eusha
United States of America, a country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, has witnessed a shifting in power in the US Presidential Election 2020. Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump to win presidency and the White House is going to welcome the forty sixth president of the United States of America.
Countries around the world are equally keeping an eye on this nail-biting moment of the presidential election of this superpower, so is Bangladesh because US is largest export destination of Bangladesh garments industry. With the working class roots, Biden conveys his message of economic recovery and speculations have been started to be made in Bangladesh about many issues regarding garment trading. It is speculated that Mr. President might stabilize the global trade system. He might be honoring bilateral and multilateral trading system rather than continuing Trump’s protectionist policy which would work in favor of Bangladesh. It is going to be a great opportunity for Bangladesh to surmount the reinstatement of Generalized System of Preferences or GSP by negotiating with the Biden administration.
The Republican Party which was represented by Trump, is conventionally known for being conservative in their policies whereas Biden represents the Democratic Party emphasizing egalitarianism, social equality, protecting the environment, and strengthening the social safety net through liberalism. Yet Bangladesh has witnessed that the democratic approach in trade has appeared to be more collegial with toughened stance than Trump’s unpredictable and transactional approach after the suspension of GSP in 2013 by Barack Obama. Therefore, the speculations that are being made on the policies to be established by Joe Biden, the successor of Barack Obama, might not even appear as we want them to be.
In recent years, Trump being Trump boosted tariffs from 10% to a massive 25% on USD 200 billion of Chinese products. It displayed a powerful America with the ability to dictate terms to rivals. China is also trying to find ways for becoming another superpower by rerouting through countries like Malaysia and Vietnam.
China is bouncing back in many ways and the recent and most mentionable step taken by them is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, popularly known as RCEP. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific nations which is made up of South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and so on. With this expanding influence of China Trump has skipped yet another ASEAN Summit which is the third time in a row by him.
Though these actions taken by the former US president Donald Trump favored Bangladesh in some way to increase the garments export, this country has a long way to go after recently emerging from being a lower developed country into a developing country. Here, we are talking about Bangladesh holding the rank of 123 where China has a rank of 29 in infrastructure according to World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. So, we should focus on not only the policies of the US president but also the modernization of garment factories, improving supply chain, building highways and reducing red tapes at ports.
The former US president Donald Trump’s trade war with China has always been an opportunity for Bangladesh. The exporters of Bangladesh, the second largest garment exporting country grabbing 6.8% of the market share according to the World Trade Organization, have seen rise of the overseas sales to a record UDS 3.81 billion and Bangladesh aims to double the total export by 2024.
Bangladesh along with the rest of the world is hence following up the US policies that are to be taken by Biden. We have been made aware about one thing that Trump’s China Policy is here to stay even after his departure from the White House by Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s senior foreign policy adviser. Trump’s ability to form issues to his and America’s advantage in foreign policy has won begrudging approval from Mr. Sullivan.
The battle between China and the US has resulted in Chinese investors being interested in expanding investments to Bangladesh. 4th of July which is celebrated as the birth of American independence had been significant to Bangladesh and China in the year 2019 for a completely different reason which is related with the trading between Bangladesh and China. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a speech to Chinese businessmen in Beijing on 4th of July,
“We highly value the huge interest demonstrated by the Chinese investors in our country and such as we are setting up a special economic zone for Chinese investors.”
The change of political power has always been significant all around the world and when the change is happening in the United States of America, the storm in the tea cups takes days after days to die down. The policy makers are sipping on their cups of tea while the people in the garment trade are trying to estimate those policies. Only time will tell how advantageous can Biden’s arrival be to Bangladesh and the garment industry and how we are going to cope with the change in global power while making the most of it.