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US keeps Bangladesh out of GSP
11
Jul '16
For the third year in a row, US has kept Bangladesh out of its GSP list of beneficiary countries for trade privileges on grounds of poor labour rights.

Ten more countries -- Ecuador, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Niger, the Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine and Uzbekistan – also feature in this list, mostly on account of poor labour rights record.

The list of beneficiaries for the Generalised System of Preferences scheme was updated last month by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the chief trade negotiation body for the US government.

Bangladesh was suspended from the GSP scheme in April 2013 on grounds of shortcomings in workplace safety and poor labour rights in the garment sector after the infamous Rana Plaza fire tragedy in which more than 1,000 people perished.

The Obama administration then provided Bangladesh a 16-point action plan to win back the trade benefits.

Dhaka has already handed in its progress report on the action plan, but it fell short of the USTR's expectations. “More needs to be done to regain the trade benefits,” it said.

Banladesh's Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed declined to comment on the issue, media reports from Dhaka said.

Before the suspension of GSP, Bangladesh used to annually export nearly $36 million worth of products to US under the 40-year-old GSP scheme, under which the US allows duty-free import to nearly 5,000 products from 122 beneficiary countries and territories.

Trade preference programmes such as the GSP and African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have greatly helped in lifting people out of poverty and supporting growth in some of the poorest countries in the world, said US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

In 2015, the total value of imports that entered the US duty-free under the GSP was $17.4 billion.

Bangladesh's annual shipments to the US, its single largest export destinations, amount to nearly $6 billion, with apparel items accounting for 95 percent of the receipts. In the first five months of 2016, Dhaka's exports to US stood at $2.54 billion and imports $345.5 million. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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