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Submitted by Shamarukh Mohiuddin on

Removing tariffs altogether may be a difficult goal but it is one worth striving for. And a goal that development organizations will get behind. I similarly feel that legitimization of trade barriers is problematic and efforts should be spent on fighting the current market distortions that these barriers create. As a matter of principle, the U.S. should remove tariffs on Bangladeshi exports especially since tariffs on apparel from LDCs and developing countries, e.g. African countries, Andean and Caribbean countries and various U.S. FTA partners have been removed for the sake of using trade as a tool for poverty reduction. Other parts of the developed world such as the E.U., Canada, Japan and Australia have also removed tariff barriers on apparel (even though rules of origin requirements present some non-tariff barriers). This is perhaps the direction to take for the U.S. However, if a Tariffs for Standards Fund is agreed upon, we should take a closer look at how such funds are being spent. Currently, the majority of funds are being spent to set up unions. Are unions the best way to promote labor standards in Bangladesh? Do workers feel unions are representing their interests? A Democracy International study shows that 87% of workers surveyed are not part of unions. Some key reasons given for not joining an union are "No time", "No idea about what unions do". Are there other ways to improve factory conditions in Bangladesh? These are important questions to ponder.