The government will take no new initiatives to have preferential trade facilities in the US revived, the commerce minister says after Washington did not include Bangladesh in its updated list of eligible countries for GSP facility. The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) website says the facility is still suspended for Bangladesh and that it is closely observing the country’s labour rights scenario, agency reports. .
“I don’t support taking any steps for reviving the GSP facility,” Tofail Ahmed told reporters in his reaction on Tuesday. “We’ve fulfilled our conditions,” he said. “We’ve nothing more to do.” President Barack Obama suspended Bangladesh’s GSP facility on June 27, 2013 in the aftermath of over 1,000 workers’ deaths in Tazreen Fashions Limited fire and Rana Plaza collapse.
The decision will likely have little impact on Bangladesh’s multi-billion dollar readymade garment export as it was not included under the GSP. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of RMG products after China but the sector has been plagued by accidents and allegations of low pay. The US said the 2013 suspension was aimed at ‘pushing Bangladesh improve’ working conditions and workplace safety in its factories.
Minister Ahmed said Bangladesh fulfilled 16 conditions set by the US for reviving the facility. Under the GSP, 5,000 types of Bangladeshi goods enjoyed duty-free access. Bangladeshi businesses exported goods worth around $34.7 million to the US in 2012 and $2 million in duties was waived. “I don’t see reasons other than political ones,” Ahmed said. “Obama has praised Bangladesh and there’s no reason for us not getting this GSP facility.”