Bangladesh is upset with the ‘unfortunate’ US decision to suspend the GSP and hopes Washington would soon bring it back, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a media release on Friday.
“While Bangladesh is absolutely respectful of a trading partner’s choice of decisions, it expresses its deep concern that this harsh measure may bring in fresh obstacles in an otherwise flourishing bilateral trade,” it added.
”Bangladesh enjoys an extensive partnership with the USA in multiple areas such as democratic institutions building, empowering grass roots people, protecting economically and socially vulnerable groups, countering terrorism, contribution to global peace, and most importantly, a lasting business-to-business connectivity.”
“It cannot be more shocking for the garment factory workers of Bangladesh that the decision to suspend GSP comes at a time when the Government of Bangladesh has taken concrete and visible measures to improve factory safety and protect workers’ rights,” the release said.
“Amendments in 2006 labour act, ILO-led government-employer-worker tripartite agreement to implement time-bound decisions, and formation of a ministerial committee to ensure compliance in garment factories should speak for Bangladesh government’s seriousness in the matter.”
The foreign ministry press release said that Bangladesh expects the US administration would soon bring back Bangladesh’s GSP status, a benefit a least developed country is supposed to receive in the developed countries as per the provisions of the World Trade Organization.
“Meanwhile, Bangladesh would remain engaged with all its trading partners to share ideas and collectively address factory safety issues.”
The press release said that Bangladesh hopes the buyers would continue their business with their long trusted partners and allow the US-Bangladesh trade to grow further.
“The resilient nature of the Bangladeshi people - as manifested in 1971 when they earned freedom in the face of ordeals at home and abroad - must help them improve the quality of life and earn respect as an enterprising nation,” the press release added.
US President Barack Obama early on Friday Bangladesh time announced the suspension of the US preferential trade benefits for Bangladesh in a mostly symbolic response to dangerous conditions in the garment industry that have cost more than 1,200 lives in the past year.
"I have determined that it is appropriate to suspend Bangladesh ... because it is not taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights to workers in the country," Obama said in a statement.
However, the US sanction does not directly affect Bangladesh's main export, multi-billion-dollar clothing to the United States, since garments are not eligible for duty cuts under the Generalized System of Preference, or GSP programme.
But it could influence the European Union (EU) to take similar action, which would have a much bigger impact on Bangladesh and its garment sector. The EU buys more than $12 billion in Bangladeshi garments each year, or roughly three-fifths of the country’s production.
"This was not a decision taken lightly," new US Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters on a phone call. "Our goal, of course, is not only to see Bangladesh restore its eligibility for (the trade) benefits, but to see Bangladeshi workers in safe, appropriate work situations."