There is not going to be any change in the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status given by the European Union to Bangladesh, and the South Asian country can continue to supply goods to European markets on quota-free, tax-free basis, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna has said.
Under the ‘Everything But Arms’ initiative, Bangladesh has quota-free and tariff-free access to the European market, and more than half of Bangladeshi exports are currently destined to the 28-nation bloc.
Hence, any change in EU’s GSP facility to Bangladesh would affect the US$ 20 billion readymade garment industry.
Speaking to reporters in his office, Ambassador Hanna said the GSP would be reviewed in the next couple of months and suggested that Bangladeshi Government needs to address and bring further improvement in two specific areas.
Mr. Hanna said the process of recruitment of garment factory inspectors needs to be speeded up and secondly, a transparent database of garment factories needs to be developed.
In May 2013, the Bangladeshi Government promised the EU and the US to appoint 200 additional garment factory inspectors by December last year, but only a small number of new inspectors have been appointed so far.
There was a speculation in some circles that the EU might scrap the duty-free facilities for Bangladeshi products, including apparel, after the EU did not find the recent elections “transparent, inclusive and credible”. However, Mr. Hanna said Bangladeshi products will continue to enjoy duty-free access to the EU market.
This year, the EU would begin its next seven years’ strategy for Bangladesh, which will focus on food security and nutrition, education and skills, and democratic governance and human rights, he added.