During the period under review, Bangladesh's legislative and institutional framework governing trade and foreign direct investment has changed only slightly. Efforts have been made to ensure better policy coordination of trade and related WTO matters by, inter alia, creating a WTO Cell at the Ministry of Commerce, the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute and a National Advisory Committee. Despite its strong attachment to, and active involvement in, the multilateral rules-based system, Bangladesh, an advocate of special and differential treatment of LDCs at the WTO, is involved in negotiations to deepen its existing regional integration (including free-trade agreements) and for other preferential trade arrangements. Bangladesh has benefited from several forms of trade-related technical assistance (Annex II.1). Foreign direct investment in the ready made garments (RMGs) industry is no longer discouraged.
2 Institutional Framework
The President is the Head of State, elected by Members of Parliament for a term of five years extendable for another term; the current President's term began in September 2002. Executive power is vested in the Prime Minister, who selects and heads the Cabinet; the Cabinet is collectively responsible to Parliament. The President appoints the Prime Minister. The President's duties are generally ceremonial, as he/she must act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.
Legislative power is vested in Parliament, which comprises 300 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage and, as from 2004, an additional 45 (previously 30) women members elected by the other 300 members. Unless dissolved sooner by the President, Parliament is dissolved on the expiry of the five-year period from the date of its first meeting, and a general election is called by the President. The last parliamentary elections were held in October 2001.
A proposal for a law, in the form of a bill, must be passed by a majority vote of the total number of members present in Parliament; it is then sent to the President for assent. Upon assent, the bill becomes an Act of Parliament. Money bills cannot be introduced into Parliament without the recommendation of the President.
The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, comprising the Appellate Division and the High Court Division. The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and other judges who are appointed by the President. There are criminal and civil courts nationwide, and metropolitan magistrates in the major cities. Financial matters are dealt with in money loan courts and bankruptcy courts. Despite widely acknowledged corruption in the lower courts and pending legislation to make the judiciary independent, the highest levels of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, retain a reputation for fairness and competence; at the appellate level the outcome of commercial cases seems to be usually determined on merit. The authorities indicate that in recent years procedural laws like the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 have been amended to include provisions for imposing penalties or costs for delaying legal proceedings.
A 1980 law to establish an Office of Ombudsman became effective on 6 January 2002. A Cabinet Committee has been constituted to scrutinize and update the law, which remains under consideration by the Committee; no date for the establishment of the Office could be indicated to the Secretariat (February 2006).
3 Development and Administration of Trade Policy
1 Main trade laws
Reforms in the legal and regulatory framework, which is considered outdated and undermanned, have become essential for facilitating economic growth and social development. Since 2000, new legislation has been passed on: public procurement; copyrights; energy; telecommunications; money loans; and land ports (Table...