American retailers appeal to Obama to renew GSP
American clothing retailers on Tuesday requested US President Barack Obama to immediately renew expired or expiring trade programmes such as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to safeguard jobs in the US.
The development comes after the American Apparel and Footwear Association's requests to the US Senate and other powerful state organisations fell to deaf ears.
A swift renewal of expired or expiring trade provisions, such as the GSP and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, will create shared economic partnerships between workers in the US and the developing world, AAFA said in the letter to Obama ahead of his State of the Union speech.
American companies have been losing $2 million a day since the suspension of the GSP scheme in July 2013, according to AAFA.
Bangladesh, however, had its GSP benefits suspended a month earlier than the rest for serious shortcomings in workplace safety and labour rights, brought to the fore by the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse.
GSP is a trade scheme under which the US allows import of more than 5,000 goods from 122 least-developed and developing countries at zero duty.
Although Bangladesh exported a very small quantity of goods under the GSP, it was still important for image purposes, as the other countries which also extend such trade privileges might be influenced by the decision of the US.
In 2012, the total value of US imports from Bangladesh under GSP was $34.7 million. The top GSP imports from Bangladesh included tobacco, sports equipment, porcelain china and plastic products.
In fiscal 2013-14, Bangladesh exported goods worth more than $5.58 billion to the US, with 95 percent of them being garment products, which were subjected to 15.61 percent duty.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR), the chief trade negotiation body for the American government, however provided a 16-point action plan for Bangladesh to win back the trade benefits.
The country has fulfilled majority of the conditions, but the USTR on January 17 said much more needed to be done to regain the GSP status.