Govt blames insiders for GSP suspension

Published : 28 June 2013, 00:34 AM
Updated : 28 June 2013, 06:39 AM

The government has accused a section of people both in Bangladesh and the United States for the ‘unfortunate’ GSP facility suspension in getting duty-free access to the US market.

“The Government of Bangladesh has come to know about the unfortunate development of GSP suspension in the USA. Indeed a section of people, both within Bangladesh and the USA, had long been campaigning for this,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

It hoped that Washington would soon reintroduce the facility.

The US suspended long-time preferential trade benefits for Bangladesh in a mostly symbolic response to hazardous working conditions in the garment industry that have cost more than 1,200 lives in the past year.

The US sanction does not directly affect Bangladesh's main export, multi-billion-dollar clothing to the United States, since garment is not eligible for duty cuts under the Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP programme.

But the decision raised concerns as other countries like European Union and Canada, where readymade garments enjoy this zero-duty facility, might follow suit.
“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,” the ministry said in a media release.
“It cannot be more shocking for the 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 highlighting steps taken by the government and industries to improve the situation.
“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 garments factories should speak for the Bangladesh government’s seriousness in the matter.”
It highlighted ‘extensive’ partnership with the USA in multiple areas such as democratic institutions building, empowering grassroots people, protecting economically and socially vulnerable groups, countering terrorism, contribution to global peace, and most importantly, a lasting business-to-business connectivity.
The ministry said Bangladesh expected the US administration to soon restore the 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 media release said.
The release said Bangladesh hoped 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.