• Saturday, December 20, 2014

Freedom in the air

US firms urge return of GSP

463 companies, trade bodies write to US Congress seeking revival of trade privileges suspended in July last year

Refayet Ullah Mirdha

In an effort to lessen their tax burden, a host of American companies and trade organisations have urged the US Congress to immediately restart the GSP programme that expired for all countries on July 31 last year.
“Over the past five and a half months, American companies like ours—and our members—have paid nearly $2 million per day in higher taxes while waiting for Congress to renew the programme. We cannot afford to wait any longer,” said the 463 signatories in a letter to the US Congress on January 27.
The signatories span from single-person sole proprietorships to some of the largest corporations in the world. They include: manufacturers of auto parts, heavy machinery and plastics; wholesalers of chemicals, food products and ingredients and steelmaking materials; and retailers of all types of product.
The companies, nearly 80 percent of which are small businesses, said they use the Generalised System of Preferences to lower costs and remain competitive.
“We therefore need Congress to pass a retroactive renewal bill immediately,” the letter added.
The programme allowed duty-free entry for all products save for textiles and garment, watches, footwear, handbags and luggage into the US shores from a total of 126 countries and territories.
The Obama administration, however, suspended Bangladesh's GSP status earlier than the rest—on June 27, 2013—citing serious shortcomings in safety standards and workers' rights in the factories, especially in the garment sector.

Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said a progress report on the recommendations of the United States Trade Representative to regain GSP benefits have already been handed to the US government.
“The US did not respond to our letter yet. I hope when the US will renew the GSP for all countries, we will also be included again under the scheme.”
Bangladesh had enjoyed the GSP status since 1976, when the US government started the privilege.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, February 02, 2014

Last modified: 11:10 pm Saturday, February 01, 2014

TAGS: Bangladesh US Congress GSP American companies small businesses garment sector.

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