Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Bangladesh never applied to get GSP privileges back after 2015: US embassy official

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-01-11 20:21:34 BdST

Bangladesh has never applied to get back its trade privileges in the US market under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility after 2015, an official at the US embassy in Dhaka says.

“There are a few press reports (that Bangladesh refused to get back GSP facilities). But Bangladesh never requested that the GSP privileges be reinstated; as a result, it was never discussed,” the official told bdnews24.com, preferring anonymity, on Thursday.

“Every year there is a review of GSP facility and every time it is made public. You can check on the public registry. It’s US federal registry. You can go and look there is no Bangladesh-specific petition.

“If Bangladesh petitioned, we would have assessed it against the 16 points of action plan,” the official said.

“The government knows that. The last time they petitioned was in 2015.”

The official said Bangladesh has fulfilled many of the 16-point action plan rolled out after the privilege was revoked. "But still lots need to be done.”

The Obama administration suspended the GSP facility for Bangladesh in June 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse in April that year, citing reasons of poor labour rights and unsafe working conditions in factories.

After the latest review of December last year, Bangladesh is still on the list of countries suspended from GSP benefits, and it has triggered media speculations.

However, the Bangladesh government during the TICFA negotiation in May last year did not raise the issue of getting the GSP privilege back.

Instead, Dhaka asked for the duty- and quota-free market access for Bangladeshi products as per the WTO rules for the LDCs.

A senior official at the foreign ministry then told bdnews24.com that it was a “strategic decision” not to press for GSP privileges anymore.

“We have been asking for GSP for long. But it seems we’ll never get it back. So we have decided to stop asking for this.

“The GSP privilege was not significant as we were not used to get that for our main exports.

"So now we are asking for duty-free market access, which is what the US extends to some African LDCs,” the official had then said.