GSP cut opportunity to improve: US
The United States has said suspension of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) benefits provides an opportunity to Bangladesh in working towards labour reforms and improving working environment, reported Press Trust of India (PTI).
"US believes this moment represents an opportunity for Bangladesh to take action for improving labour and safety standards," said the State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, on June 28.
"US will work with Bangladesh on the steps needed to restore its GSP privileges, but it requires to go through a process that can make improvements in the working conditions there," he said, a day after the US President Barack Obama suspended GSP benefits to Bangladesh, citing lack of labour reforms in the garment industry.
GSP is a 37-year-old trade preference program under which the United States provides duty-free treatment to many imports from developing countries, the news agency reported on June 29.
The suspension will become effective 60 days after the publication of the presidential proclamation in the Federal Register.
"We will continue to work with them for taking additional substantive actions to improve worker safety. Addressing these underlying labour rights and workplace safety issues will help ensure that there's never again another fire or collapse like we saw in some of these horrific incidents," Ventrell said.
The country is working with Bangladesh to revoke the suspension as the latter is taking a series of measures to bring its labour laws according to the international standards.
"Our goal, of course, is not only to see restoration of GSP benefits, but to see Bangladeshi workers in safe and appropriate working situations," the US Trade Representative (USTR), Mike Froman, said on Thursday.
He said passage of the labour laws would be an important step for Bangladesh to restore its GSP benefits.
"We are discussing a number of other actions with them that they can take to enhance workers rights and safety. We will provide support and assistance as they need," he said.
Froman said that the United States is in continued dialogue with Bangladesh to see the necessary actions it takes to protect its workers and ultimately reinstatement of the GSP programs.
"While GSP covers only a small portion of the US imports from Bangladesh, we think the GSP issue has greater impact than the numbers suggest, given the public attention GSP has received in Bangladesh and importance it attributes to it," he added.