Bangladesh will again raise the issue of restoring the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits granted by the United States during the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) or TICFA meeting to be held in Washington DC in December. held to be addressed. This information is known from the sources of the Ministry of Commerce.
Sources said the US Trade Representative (USTR) had previously set some conditions that Bangladesh could control if they met. It is important to address these issues before applying for the SAP benefits again. So that the time to increase the demand for recovery of the GSP facility for the export sector of Bangladesh can become a question.
According to sources, Bangladesh’s GSP benefits were suspended on June 27, 2013, at the request of the American Organization of Labor-Congress for International Organizations (AFL-CIO), an influential organization in the United States, in the context of the Tazreen Mode fire in 2012 and the death of a worker in the collapse of Rana Plaza the following year. Since then, there has been contact with the US government at various levels, but Bangladesh is still deprived of GSP benefits.
To regain SAP benefits, environmental improvements in various sectors were included, including improving the working environment in garment factories. Thereafter, the suspension order on SAP was not revoked even after the development in the related fields, including the ready-to-wear sector, was reported.
In March 2020, Christopher Wilson, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) responsible for South and Central Asia, visited Bangladesh. At the time, there was a discussion with the trade minister about the return of GSP benefits.
He said in the meeting that his country wants to increase cooperation on trade. Therefore, Bangladesh’s customs processes, taxes, e-commerce etc. need to be simplified.
According to sources, almost all the conditions that the US had set for the return of GSP benefits have been met. There are some things going on right now. Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, will attend the TIKFA meeting in the first week of December to discuss these issues. However, the TIKFA meeting group under the Ministry of Commerce has not yet been formed. The USTR has certain issues such as the sourcing of cotton, agricultural products and labor rights in certain economic zones. We are working on that.
A Commerce Ministry official said USTR wants Bangladesh to facilitate union formation in EPZs and economic zones by removing obstacles. This is one of the reasons. Note that the last SAP program expired in 2020 and the US Congress has not revived it since then.
Earlier, speaking to reporters last August, Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said that if the US Congress approves a new SAP program for several countries in the future, Bangladesh will ask the USTR to revive the SAP facility. . And with that hope, the senior secretary of the Department of Commerce will visit the United States in December.