US embassy official hopeful Bangladesh will get back GSP trade privilege

A representative from the US Embassy in Dhaka has expressed hope that Bangladesh will get back GSP facilities, suspended following Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, in the US market.

“We look forward to continuing talks with the government of Bangladesh on how we might be able to progress here and how the GSP status will be restored again,” Charge d’affaires of the US Embassy JoAnne Wagner told reporters on Tuesday.

She took questions in a press conference organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh to announce the schedule of ‘US Trade Show 2020’ at a Dhaka hotel.

The US revoked the GSP facilities on June 27, 2013, following two major industrial accidents in Bangladesh – Tazreen Fashions fire in 2012 and Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.

Under the GSP programme, Bangladesh had benefitted from exporting around 5,000 different items to the US market tariff-free.

The Obama administration had placed a set of conditions including improvement of the working conditions in RMG factories to revive the GSP facilities.

Bangladesh has made considerable progress in improving RMG factory environment and worked on other conditions, but the US has not restored the GSP facilities.

“That is one of the main things we have to talk about to see quick progress on, but there is no guarantee of course,” Wagner said while responding to a question on the condition of readymade garment factories.

“We have a lot of things to do on workers’ safety and rights protection, particularly collective bargaining and forming association,” she added.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh organised a press conference at a Dhaka hotel on Tuesday to announce the schedule of US Trade Show 2020.

The Charge d’affaires said her country is looking forward to begin discussions about reintroducing GSP.

“The US is looking forward to talk again about restoring GSP status and a great deal of progress on workers’ rights,” she added.

“On workers’ rights, these are the same kind of things we are looking into any country that wants to get GSP. We look into things like worker rights, intellectual property rights protection and workers’ wages.”

The 27th US Trade Show, the flagship event of AmCham, will begin on Feb 27 at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka Hotel.

Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun will inaugurate the three-day event where 48 exhibitors in 80 booths will display the products and services of more than a hundred companies.