GSP restoration if measures implemented in full: US envoy | Greenwatch Dhaka | The leading online daily of Bangladesh

GSP restoration if measures implemented in full: US envoy

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US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat on Wednesday said the US will restore Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for Bangladesh if it fully implements specific measures listed in the GSP Action Plan for it.
She made the remark while talking to journalists after visiting two readymade garment units in Gazipur to assess working environment and compliance issues.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) arranged the programme at Utah Fashion Ltd and Epyllion Style Ltd for the diplomats stationed in Dhaka.In response to a query whether political issues had been the reasons behind the GSP suspension, Bernicat said, “The US has suspended GSP because of Rana Plaza, not for any political reason… I repeat, there’s no political reason.”
The Ambassador said the US was concerned over workplace safety and worker rights situation in Bangladesh’s RMG sector 10 years before Rana Plaza collapse; the Rana Plaza incident just added emphasis to the GSP suspension.
“Since April 13, 2013 (Rana Plaza disaster), Bangladesh has made enormous progress to ensure safety in workplace; only a few works left … there shouldn’t be any disappointment regarding GSP restoration (process),” she added.
On Tuesday, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed described the non-restoration of the GSP by the US as ‘unfortunate’ and mentioned that it is only politics, not other reasons, behind depriving Bangladesh.
Talking to reporters in the capital, he also said the US decision forced him showing no interest in taking further initiatives to regain the GSP as Bangladesh was deprived of the facility despite fulfilling most of the conditions tagged by the US.
GSP is a trade scheme under which the US allows import of more than 5,000 goods from 122 least developed and developing countries with lower or zero-duty benefit.
On June 29, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill (HR 1295), that reauthorises the GSP through Dec 31, 2017, according to Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
This excludes goods that entered from Russia, which formally graduated from the GSP programme on Oct 4, 2014, and any other countries that are no longer eligible for GSP benefits, such as Bangladesh.
Under the new law, duty reductions under the GSP programme will begin 30 days after the law is enacted, which took effect on July 29, 2015.
It also extends duty reductions retroactively for any goods entered in between July 31, 2013, and the effective date.
Bangladesh’s apparels have been enjoying duty-free benefits to majority of the developed and developing countries.
But Bangladesh’s apparels do not enjoy duty-free benefit only in US market. In January this year’s review, the USTR recognised progress but urged that more needs to be done on worker safety and rights.
President Obama suspended Bangladesh from GSP in June 2013 based on Bangladesh’s failure to meet statutory eligibility requirements related to worker rights.
BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam led the tour to the factories while some other diplomats including EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon; Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit-Pierre Laramee; Spanish Ambassador Eduardo de Laiglesia Y del Rosal; Charge d’ Affaires of Australian High Commission Dr Lucinda Bell; Charge d’ Affaires of Danish Embassy Jean-Pierre Poncet; and Charge d’ Affaires of the Netherlands Embassy Martine van Hoogstraten.- UNB

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