Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday asked US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller to take steps to reinstate the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status for Bangladesh as the country has made significant progress in workplace safety.
Bangladesh did not face any kind of financial losses due to the GSP suspension, but it has been damaging the image of the South Asian country, Munshi said.
The minister spoke at the opening of the 26th US Trade Show at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka. Considering the current improved situation in the workplace safety, there is no reason to continue the suspension, the minister said in a statement.
Although Bangladesh submitted the progress reports to the United States Trade Representative twice for revival of the trade privilege, the US did not hold any hearing on it yet.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013, Bangladesh has improved the workplace safety in the garment factories as per the recommendations by the Accord and the Alliance, two foreign inspection and remediation agencies.
As the US does not allow the GSP facility on garment export to any country, Bangladesh did not enjoy the trade privilege on apparel exports to this particular market before the preferential trade treatment was suspended in June 2013.
As a result, garment exporters face 16.62 percent duty on the export of apparel items to the US.
The US along with other developed countries agreed to provide duty-free facility to the products originated from the least developed countries.
But the garment items are not included in this package.
Still, the US is the single largest export destination for Bangladesh, the minister said, adding that last year Bangladesh's total export to the US was $5.98 billion and the country imported goods worth $1.70 billion during the same period.
Before the suspension of the GSP, Bangladesh used to export goods worth $34 million under the concession in a year. Tobacco, ceramics and some plastic goods used to enjoy the zero-duty benefit.
Seeking investment from big companies of the US in Bangladesh, Munshi also said the government is developing 100 special economic zones for the local and foreign investors where American entrepreneurs can also invest.
Some 46 companies are showcasing their products at 74 stalls at the three-day show.
The US ambassador also spoke.