Govt set to inform US of progress
The government will send off a progress report to the US on November 15 on the action plan outlined by the Obama administration to help Bangladesh regain trade privileges.
“We have made progress in some areas as per the recommendations of the USTR [United States Trade Representative]. I am hopeful we will regain the GSP status,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told The Daily Star by phone.
Ahmed, however, said he has called another meeting of stakeholders today at the ministry to discuss the progresses made in line with the US action plan.
The commerce ministry has been coordinating with other ministries, agencies, departments and private sector stakeholders such as BGMEA and BKMEA to regain the generalised system of preferences (GSP).
The US scrapped the trade privilege on June 27, citing serious shortcomings in labour rights and working condition after Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse.
Of the major progresses, the labour and employment ministry has taken preparations to publish an advertisement in newspapers to appoint 200 factory inspectors within the next 10 days, Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said yesterday.
“As per the requirement in the action plan, it might not be possible to appoint all the 200 inspectors by December, but many of the formalities could be completed by the yearend,” Shipar said.
Currently, the total number of factory inspectors across the country is 84, he said.
Shipar said the ministry might be able to make related rules and regulations by December to apply the amended labour law that allowed full-freedom of trade unionism by workers at the factory level.
The US will review the GSP status of Bangladesh next month.
Of the other progresses, the government has already withdrawn an order that scrapped the registration of two NGOs -- Bangladesh Centre for Women Solidarity, and Social Activities for the Environment, the commerce secretary said.
The government has also asked the Dhaka district magistrate to take steps for withdrawing cases against labour leaders Kalpona Akter and Babul Akter, as required in the US action plan.
The movable and immovable properties of Mustafizur Rahman, the suspected killer of labour leader Aminul Islam, have already been confiscated, the commerce ministry official said.
After the suspension of the GSP, the USTR had sent the government a set of recommendations so that the trade privilege could be regained in the December review.