TF National Desk
Bangladesh’s GSP privileges were suspended in June 2013, in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster, on grounds of serious shortcomings in workplace safety and poor labor rights. Now Bangladesh wants restoration of trade privileges to the American market. The country will highlight the reforms made to strengthen workplace safety and enhance labor rights in the garment sector for regaining the Generalised System of Preferences facility. But the US feels more needs to be done to win back the trade privileges. After the Rana Plaza building collapse, Bangladesh signed the International Labor Organisation-brokered Sustainability Compact with the EU committing to responsible business behavior and improving workplace safety and labor rights.
Later, the US and Canada became partners of the Sustainability Compact. Before GSP suspension, only 0.54 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports were covered by the scheme in a year. Products like dried fish, ceramics and plastic goods enjoyed the benefit but not the main export earner: apparel. Incidentally, the US is the single largest export market for Bangladesh.
The beneficiaries of GSP include all South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Only Bangladesh remains excluded. GSP was established by the US in 1976. The aim is to promote exports of low income countries to industrialized countries in order to support their economic growth and development.