GSP review in May
Conditions to improve labour, factories issues must be implemented, says MozenaStaff Correspondent
The suspended GSP facility for Bangladesh will be reviewed in May by the USTR as the conditions attached to reinstate the status needed to be met by the government for a favourable outcome.
‘I want Bangladesh gets back the GSP facility… I am eager to see the preference is reinstated,’ U.S. ambassador in Bangladesh Dan W Mozena told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with commerce minister Tofail Ahmed at his secretariat office.
However, the ambassador reminded that 16 steps attached to get back the duty-free market access in the U.S. under the generalised system of preference scheme have to be implemented by the government as a pre-condition.
The conditions include improving safety records in garment factories, establishing labour rights including allowing the workers unions to call for strike and appointing adequate manpower in different offices to inspect fire safety and building construction of garment factories.
The United States on June 28 last year suspended the GSP facility for Bangladeshi goods entering the U.S. market citing, amongst other things, lack of workplace safety and shortcomings in labour standards in the country’s apparel sector.
The suspension was prompted by a fire incident in Tazreen Fashions where 112 workers were burnt alive in November 2012 and the collapse of the Rana Plaza building where at least 1,130 workers died and many more were injured.
Under the GSP programme, up to 5,000 types of products from 127 beneficiary developing countries, including 44 least-developed countries, are eligible for duty-free treatment when exported to the United States.
In 2012, the total value of goods that entered the United States duty-free under GSP was $19.9 billion, according to a USTR post.
Bangladesh exported goods worth only $35 million in 2012 under the GSP scheme.
Responding to a question, Mozena said the stand of the U.S. government on Bangladesh election remains unchanged as they believed conflicting political parties should engage in dialogue to sort out their differences for holding an inclusive election.
Tofail said he was optimistic about withdrawal of suspension on GSP by the United States Trade Representative in May as Bangladesh has so far implemented a great deal of conditions included in the U.S. ‘action plan’ for the imminent reinstatement of GSP.
The commerce minister said the first meeting of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement between Dhaka and Washington will be held in Dhaka on April 6.
‘We will press for getting duty-free and quota-free market access for all products originating from Bangladesh to the US market at the maiden Ticfa meeting,’ Tofail told reporters.
He said the recently concluded WTO ministerial in Bali assured of offering duty free and quota free market access for all products of least developed countries to developed nations by the next two years.
The commerce minister said the riling Awami League was always ready to hold dialogue with the opposition.
When asked, he, however, could not give any tentative date for starting such dialogue.
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