Bangladesh delegation hopeful on retaining the GSP facility from the USA

Bangladesh is expecting that the United States (US) will not withdraw the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility for products of the former in the latter’s market, reports the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.

The optimism came, as a delegation successfully convinced the US authorities concerned during the hearing held in Washington Thursday.

“I think our answers to their questions were satisfactory and we’ve made them satisfied in the fourth round of hearing. I hope that the GSP would not be withdrawn or suspended,” said Mr Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, a member of the Bangladesh delegation, on phone from Washington Friday. Mohiuddin said maybe the US authorities would grant Bangladesh the GSP facility either for an indefinite period or for two to three years.

The delegation clarified at the US Trade Representative (USTR) hearing Bangladesh deserves the tariff treatment, he added.

He said Bangladesh made clear its position on four major issues including occupational health and safety and progress in the probe into killing of labour leader Aminul Islam.

He adds: “We have told them that we have made significant progress in the probe into Aminul Islam’s case as it has been shifted to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).”

Mohiuddin, immediate past president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the final decision on the GSP continuation would be taken after the hearing to be held in May or June.

Bangladesh answered more than 150 questions on trade union and labor standards at the USTR hearing, one member of the delegation said.

Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed is leading the delegation in an effort to retain the GSP, a duty-waiver scheme introduced in 1976 by the US government for the least developed countries.

Unlike the European Union’s GSP-spread that covers “everything but arms”, the US GSP is limited. It covers a meager 0.54 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports to the USA, which in value terms is $26 million as against Bangladesh’s total export of $ 4.91 billion to the US in 2012.

A total of 97 per cent of Bangladeshi export goods enter the US market without any duty. But the garments, the country’s main export items, have to pay 15.3 per cent duty.


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Posted in Garment Worker Issues

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