Buyers unease led to GSP cut: Yunus

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus says the US suspended Bangladesh’s preferential trade status because buyers in that country were not convinced enough was being done to improve working conditions and industrial safety.

Published : 29 June 2013, 03:12 AM
Updated : 29 June 2013, 04:00 AM

“The GSP facility has been cancelled as we failed to convince the buyers,” the former Grameen Bank Managing Director said on Saturday in an obvious dig at the government.

Yunus said public opinion against working conditions and industrial safety in Bangladesh embarrassed buyers in the West and was mainly responsible for the US government suspending the GSP.

Bangladesh’s quota-free access to the US market was suspended on Jun 27.

The US says it was to push Bangladesh to improve factory safety and working conditions and described the suspension as an 'opportunity’ for Bangladesh to improve.

The outcry on the issue of safety and working conditions built up after 110 garment workers were burnt to death last November in a factory fire and 1,100 more, mostly garment workers, died in the Rana Plaza collapse in April.

“We have failed to ensure the workers rights despite the fact that we’ve been in this garment trade for long,” Yunus said, blaming it as the main cause for GSP suspension.

Yunus was packed off from the Grameen Bank he founded in 2011 by the present government on grounds that he was well past the prescribed age as Managing Director.

Now the government is considering splitting up the Grameen Bank into several different business units – a move Yunus opposes fervently.

The BNP threw its weight behind the Nobel laureate and promised to restore Grameen Bank to its previous state.

Yunus, too, has warned the government that he would not let anyone destroy the micro-credit institution.

Asked about his role in reviving the facility, Yunus, a friend to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said, “I am not part of the government and hence, I have no part to play.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher