Position paper submitted to retain GSP facility: minister
Bangladesh has already submitted its position paper to the US authorities to retain duty-free benefits under the generalised system of preferences (GSP), Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said yesterday.
â€œWe're hopeful that the GSP facility for Bangladesh will continue in the US market,â€ she told the House while responding to a scripted question from AKM Maidul Islam (Kurigram-3).
The minister said the government is trying its best to retain the GSP for Bangladeshi products and expand its coverage area.
She said Bangladesh in its position paper described the steps taken for the workers' welfare and the plans that will be taken, including the women empowerment issue.
The Bangladesh embassy in the US is also upholding the country's position among the US congress members and departments concerned, Dipu Moni said.
Taking a swipe at the opposition leader, she mentioned that BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in her Washington Times article demanded withdrawal of the GSP facility for Bangladesh.
â€œThere might be differences of opinion with the governmentâ€¦but people will want a reply from her why she had taken such suicidal initiatives that went against the country's interest,â€ Dipu Moni told the House.
In the second week of January, the US Trade Representative (USTR) office sought public comments from the stakeholders by January 31 on the possible withdrawal, suspension or limitation of Bangladesh's duty-free benefits under the GSP.
It said that based on the most recent available information, including updated reports from the AFL-CIO, the GSP subcommittee believes that the lack of progress by the government of Bangladesh in addressing worker rights issues in the country warrants consideration of possible withdrawal, suspension, or limitation of Bangladesh's trade benefits under GSP.
Earlier at a press briefing, Dipu Moni said the matter depends on bilateral discussions though only 0.54 percent of Bangladesh's total exports of $4.87 billion to the US now enjoy duty-free status under the GSP.
The government is working for the improvement of labour standards and ensuring the quality of the products that go to the global market, especially readymade garments.
The GSP programme grants duty-free treatment to designated eligible articles that are imported from designated beneficiary developing countries.
Once granted, GSP benefits may be withdrawn, suspended, or limited by the US president with respect to any article or with respect to any country.
Bangladesh is a designated beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme, as well as a least-developed beneficiary developing country.
In 2011, the US imports from Bangladesh under GSP totalled $26.3 million. Among the leading GSP imports from Bangladesh were tobacco products, sports equipment, china kitchenware, and plastic articles.