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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

US must play fair on GSP and trade deals with Bangladesh

Update : 06 Oct 2015, 06:42 PM

The prime minister is right to have commented during an interview with Voice of America that there is no logical reason why the US government has not reinstated GSP trade facilities for Bangladesh.

In the more than two years since its GSP suspension was imposed, Bangladesh has made good progress in improving labour conditions and in meeting all the goals set by the US.

The valuable work done by the government and the brand-led Alliance and Accord stake-holder initiatives since the Rana Plaza disaster on improving factory safety and workers rights, deserves to be acknowledged.

It is unfair for the US to single out Bangladeshi businesses and workers for exclusion from GSP, when it maintains these privileges for over 122 different countries, many of which hold similar concerns about labour conditions.

Bangladesh deserves US support to build a stable economy. It is unjust for the US as a major export destination not to recognise the progress Bangladesh has been making.

This is particularly so at a time when other nations like Vietnam are benefiting are benefiting from new trade deals with the US such as the Trans-Pacific trade partnership and the EU maintains duty and quota-free access for Bangladeshi goods.

The US should move forward on restoring GSP and improving trade privileges for Bangladesh to give our exporters a level playing field with comparable nations.

In this regard, the US government should review the 15.6% rate of tariff duty it imposes on Bangladeshi  exports to the US market. This is the second highest rate it imposes and roughly five times that on goods from China and India, amounting to over $828m a year.

The US should adopt the elegant proposal made last year by the former chief economist of the Bangladesh Bank for a Tariffs for Standards fund, to allocate a portion of the excess tariffs it charges on Bangladeshi goods to help finance factory upgrades and improvements in working condition.

This would both directly help Bangladeshi workers and address the concerns of the Bangladesh and US governments. It is in the mutual interest of both our nations to ensure Bangladeshi businesses are treated fairly in trade arrangements.

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