US may strip Bangladesh of tariff breaks

RMG makers waiting to know GSP fate

DHAKA : The Obama administration may strip Bangladesh of import breaks following deadly accidents in the country’s textile industry, another sign of the pressure building on Bangladesh to improve labour conditions, reports UNB.
The move was prompted partly by a fire late last year that killed 112 people and gained momentum after the recent factory collapse that claimed more than 1,100 lives, according to a Washington Post report.
A delegation of top Bangladeshi officials, now in Washington, is lobbying to retain the tariff breaks and to convince US leaders in USTR, Labor and the State Department with a message that they are serious about overhauling local labor laws, prosecuting crimes against labor leaders and making other long-sought changes.
“We reached the conclusion that things were not moving forward, and we needed to do something dramatic,” said a US trade official, who was not authorised to speak for the record.
However, leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said they do not want to think anything negative on GSP issue though the report could indicate either GSP or duty-free and quota free access to US market. “We’re not aware of anything negative on the GSP issue. We need to wait for getting government version,” BGMEA first vice president Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury told UNB on Friday night.
Talking to this correspondent, former BGMEA first vice president M Nasiruddin Chowdhury said the top government officials are already in Washington. “We didn’t receive any negative news on GSP issue yet.”
Former BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy said there were lots of efforts to retain the GSP facility. “We desire its continuation.”
He said though RMG is out of GSP facility in the US market but it will have adverse impact on other export destinations, especially in the EU. “Still, we hope something will come out.”