WASHINGTON – Bangladesh has, once again, been denied renewal of a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) arrangement with the us of America following the newest spherical of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) talks in Washington.
The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility for Bangladesh was suspended in June 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse in April,
The US government had previously suggested Bangladesh to make more significant progress regarding freedom of association, workers’ rights and safety, and the protection of labour leaders from violence in order to regain a GSP trading arrangement.The then Obama administration also gave 16 conditions to be fulfilled for regaining the trade privilege. Bangladesh fulfilled the conditions and resubmitted reports to United States Trade Representative (USTR).
In March, the US administration made its latest appeal for Bangladesh to improve its human rights record. At that stage, a USTR (US Trade Representative) spokesperson stated: “Although Bangladesh has made some progress on these issues, especially with respect to workplace safety, more progress is necessary before GSP benefits can be restored.”
Bangladeshi officials went into the latest talks in a positive frame of mind, prepared to cite progress made regarding workplace safety and workers’ rights as a way of convincing US decision makers that any previous worries should no longer prevent new trading ventures being created.
Ahead of the meeting, sources in Dhaka confirmed that Bangladeshi representatives would seek US investment in special economic zones (SEZ) and improved market access for Bangladeshi products.
The US representatives that attended the TICFA meeting are said to have discussed the expansion of US exports to Bangladesh, with an emphasis on cotton for Bangladesh’s huge RMG sector.
This latest TICFA meeting follows those of April 2014, November 2015 and May 2017 which were held alternately between Dhaka and Washington, with the 2018 edition having taken place on September 13.
The USA remains Bangladesh’s largest export market, with bilateral trade said to have reached a new high of US$7.2 billion in the 2017 financial year.