Bangladesh is on track to receiving the GSP Plus status from the European Union when it graduates to the developing country bracket in 2021.
As a least-developed country Bangladesh has been enjoying zero-duty benefit to the EU under its Everything but Arms scheme since 1971. But once it becomes a developing country, Bangladesh will no longer be eligible for the privilege.
The GSP Plus scheme will be applicable for Bangladesh then, for which the country will have to fulfil some conditions. Strengthening workplace safety, improved labour rights, saving the environment and reduction of corruption are some of the major conditions for receiving the GSP Plus status from the EU, where 60 percent of Bangladesh's garment prod.
“We are well ahead in comparison to many other countries in fulfilling the conditions for GSP Plus,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Bangladesh's claim on the GSP Plus status will be stronger after 2017, when all 2,200 garment factories will complete remediation works, Rahman said at a joint press briefing with the visiting EU trade delegation at the capital's Westin Hotel yesterday.
A 14-member delegation of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament, headed by Chairman Bernd Lange, came to Bangladesh to review the compliance status of the garment factories under the Sustainability Compact.
Bangladesh signed the Sustaina-bility Compact with the EU in September 2013 committing to responsible business behaviour.
The delegation will visit some garment factories today to observe the labour rights situation and workplace safety.
“We urged the delegation to give us a unified code of conduct as different buyers demand different kinds of codes,” Rahman said.
As per rules, Accord and Alliance, the two foreign inspection agencies responsible for fixing structural, fire and electrical flaws in garment factories, are supposed to leave the country by June 2018. So far, 70 percent of the remediation works under Accord and 63 percent under Alliance have been completed, according to the BGMEA president.
BGMEA, the International Labour Organisation and the government will monitor the progress in remediation after the departure of Accord and Alliance.
On the sidelines, a garment exporter said the Accord is planning to extend its tenure for another three years. “We do not want Accord to stay here after June 2018. If it stays, we will demand inclusion of BGMEA, the government and ILO in the Accord steering committee,” the exporter said.
Impressive industrialisation has taken place in Bangladesh and the country has been achieving 6 percent economic growth over the last many years, Lange said at the briefing.
Bangladesh is on the path to becoming a middle-income country; if the country graduates from the LDC status, the trade relations have to be changed, he added.