Women Empowerment in Bangladesh: Effect of WTO Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)
The negotiations on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) in the World Trade Organization (WTO) are expected to lead Bangladesh to substantial increase in ReadyMade Garments (RMG) export in world market. The NAMA negotiations are aimed to reduce or eliminate tariffs, including tariff peaks, high tariffs, tariff escalation and nontariff barriers for non-agricultural goods, in particular on products of export interest to developing countries. Non-agricultural products include industrial goods,
manufactured goods, textiles, fuels and mining products, footwear, jewellery, forestry products, ...view middle of the document...
Women empowerment is important in achieving gender equality; promoting development and contributing to the achievement of internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Female workers in Bangladesh were traditionally linked to global markets through export of tea and jute. But with the
emergence of Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector, the country’s female labor force was integrated into international market in a more direct and intense way (Quasem, 2006). RMG industry occupying a unique position in Bangladesh economy has emerged from economic opportunities perceived by the private sector in the late 1970s. It is the largest exporting industry in Bangladesh which plays a key role in the employment generation and in the provision of income to the poor. The phenomenal growth of the export oriented RMG sector has led to a high degree of feminization of formal manufacturing employment in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh as a garment exporter was created by Multi-Fibre Agreement (Talukder, 2003). The Agreement of Textile and Clothing (ATC) introduced in 1994, aimed at abolishing all quotas by the end of 2004. The elimination of MFA was considered to have adverse impacts on Bangladesh RMG industry. But Bangladesh RMG industry was quite successful in coping with the post MFA quota period. US market is exceedingly important for Bangladesh but about 70% of the RMG exports to the USA from Bangladesh are currently carried out under quota. Tariff reduction under NAMA is expected to have positive implications for Bangladesh in the US market where most of Bangladesh’s industrial goods do not enjoy GSP treatment (Rahman and Shadat, 2006). In the process of opening up to trade and increase in export least developed countries with abundant unskilled and semiskilled labor will experience job creations (Nordas, 2003). Labor intensive Bangladesh RMG industry is dominated by women and consequently job creation will largely benefit women.
Review of Existing Literature
There are a number of descriptive studies analyzing employment and income generation in exporting industries from a gender perspective. Global Perspective The literature reviewed by Joekes (1999) concludes that there is a positive relation between trade expansion and women’s participation in workforce. The positive gender effect is largest in lowest income countries. Ozer (2000) analyses the relation between
exports and female employment in Turkey. It finds a strong positive relation between exports and female share of employment and gets that the female share is higher in plants where workers are less skilled and use less capital intensive and energy intensive technology. A study by Cunningham (2001) identifies an increase in female share of employment in the formal sector in Brazil and Costa Rica following trade liberalization. The study by Haouas (2003) states that due to women’s increased labor force participation employment increased in both exportable and importable sectors during...