PM calls for GSP revival

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the US business community to persuade the Obama administration to revive preferential trade status Bangladesh was enjoying in the US market.

New York
Published : 27 Sept 2013, 09:26 AM
Updated : 27 Sept 2013, 10:12 AM

She made the request when a delegation of the US Chamber of Commerce's US-Bangladesh Working Group called on her on Thursday in New York.

Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of garment products trailing China. Ready-made garment product export accounts up to 80 percent of its total export income.

However, the $20-billion industry has been beset by poor working condition and low wage.

Around four million people, mostly women, employed in the sector toil for as little as $40 per month.

The poor working conditions in many garment factories and lax security measures shot to prominence after the death of over 1,200 workers in the Tazreen factory fire and the collapse of multi-storied Rana Plaza near Dhaka within a span of six months.

On Jun 30, the US cancelled the duty-free access of Bangladeshi goods into its market. The Generalised System of Preference (GSP) is designed to help grow the poor nations.

GSP cancellation will harm the workers' interests, the Prime Minister was quoted as telling the delegation by her media advisor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury.

Hasina said the move in the name of the workers' welfare, safety and compliance was not supportable.

She said halting the preferential trade status for an accident was not acceptable either pointing out such accidents take place even in the developed world.

File Photo

Hasina highlighted her government's various moves to hike wage and other facilities of the garment workers. She also talked of providing financial assistance to the injured and families of the victims of April's Rana Plaza collapse.
The US business representatives lauded Hasina's leadership and hoped the GSP facility would be restored soon.
Hasina's advisor Chowdhury said the meeting was a follow up of the last year's US-Bangladesh Partnership dialogue held in Dhaka.
Chowdhury said the US trade leaders emphasised on high level dialogue with business and government leaders to promote Bangladesh.
Ready-made garment was not covered under GSP. The move re-imposed tariffs on some of Bangladesh’s goods export to the US. This is likely to cost millions of dollars in taxes.
Stakeholders say the decision would not negatively impact the overall export scenario since 86 percent of Bangladesh's exports to the US consist of garments.
The US is Bangladesh's single largest export market. According to the EPB, the total exports during the 2011-12 fiscal were billed at $ 24 billion.
According to the US Trade Representative, Bangladeshi businessmen earned $34.7 million by exporting tobacco, sports equipment, porcelain china and plastic products to the US and enjoyed $2 million waive in duties.