US renews GSP facilities for 122 countries but excludes Bangladesh

US renews GSP facilities for 122 countries but excludes Bangladesh

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The United States has renewed its Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility for 122 countries, but Bangladesh is not one of them.The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) website says the facility is still suspended for Bangladesh and that it’s closely observing the country’s labour rights scenario.
The trade benefits for Bangladesh were revoked in mid-2013 after the Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire, which left more than 1,200 people dead.In January this year, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said that Bangladesh needed to do more to support workers’ rights and fight unfair labour practices to regain the benefit.”We also urge the government to accelerate its efforts to ensure workers’ rights and to take measures to address continuing reports of harassment of and violence against labour activists who are attempting to exercise their rights,” Froman said then.The 2013 suspension, however, did not directly hit Bangladesh’s garments exports as it was not included in the facility extended to almost 5,000 export items.In 2012, Bangladesh’s export to US stood at $34.7 million, which included tobacco, sports equipment, ceramic and plastic goods, which allowed a tax waiver of around $2 million for exporters.However, the US had to stop its GSP facility in 2013 as its Trade Preference Act expired.On June 29 this year, President Barack Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 after the Congress cleared it.According to the Act, the GSP facility for 122 countries will be effective until December 31, 2017 and makes it retroactive to July 31, 2013.All the SAARC nations, except Bangladesh is included in the renewed the GSP facility.The Bangladesh government, however, says it has complied with all the 16 conditions the US had set in 2013 to regain the benefit. In April this year, Bangladesh sent a report on the matter to the USTR’s office.The US, however, has been saying that Bangladesh has made ‘some progress’, but that was not considered ‘good enough’.Bangladesh’s largest export destination is the US as around 21 percent of its $25 billion exports goes to the country, according to figures by the Export Promotion Bureau.

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