Ex-US envoy sees scopes for BD to regain GSP facility

Dhaka,  Thu,  17 August 2017
Published : 03 Aug 2017, 23:16:45
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Ex-US envoy sees scopes for BD to regain GSP facility

Focuses on developing bilateral ties
FE Report

A former US ambassador opined  on Thursday that he sees scopes for reinstating the GSP facility for Bangladesh, as renewal of the US trade privilege for the countries concerned is scheduled by the end of this year.

Frank G Wisner, the former US ambassador in Zambia, Egypt and India, however, said it is his own observation.

He also underscored the need for taking various steps and developing relationship between the US and Bangladesh.

He said these at the luncheon of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) at a city hotel.

The ambassador was speaking on 'Reflections on the US-Bangladesh

Relationship' in the programme. Commerce Minister Tofael Ahmed was its chief guest, where US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia S Bernicat also spoke.

He said encountering violent extremism, integration of the people who follow radicalism with the society, and protecting human rights etc are important for the welfare of citizens of both the countries.

Bangladesh's GSP has been suspended since June 2013 on the ground of poor labour rights and weak workplace safety. The country has been lobbying with the US for reinstatement of the facility by addressing the US-provided 16 conditions.

Bangladesh also submitted progress reports on addressing these conditions twice to United States Trade Representative (USTR).  But, USTR did not revive the trade privilege.

Wisner, who was in Dhaka as the chief of economic affairs in 1973, shared his experiences in the war-devastated country.

He said now he has become impressed with the economic growth of Bangladesh that it has achieved over the years.

The ambassador, however, highlighted the challenges that the country has been facing in continuing the growth in the 'very fast competitive world'.

The former diplomat also expressed his surprise over the looting of money by hackers from the central bank last year. He highlighted the need for taking US-Bangladesh joint efforts for developing institutions to ensure national safety and security.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed in his speech at the meeting said Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in workplace safety and labour rights after the GSP suspension.

"We do not need GSP. We've started to forget about GSP," he further said.

Bangladesh's export to the US is less competitive, as the American

importers have to give 15.62 percent duty on import of apparel items from Bangladesh, whereas the duty rate in case of other countries is much lower.

The US traders, who import apparel goods from Bangladesh, paid nearly $5.0 billion as duty to the US customs over the last five years, Tofail Ahmed said.

Bangladesh used to export some items, like - plastic goods, under GSP privilege. The country exported goods worth $23 million under the facility in 2013, when it was suspended.

The US ambassador in Bangladesh said the country's export to the US has doubled during the last 10 years and reached $6.8 billion in the last fiscal year.

Regarding the US-Bangladesh bilateral relation Marcia Bernicat said in the third Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA), which took place in Dhaka in May, both the countries

discussed several market access issues, including workplace safety,

labour rights, US investment in Bangladesh, and digital economy here.

She is hopeful that Bangladesh will amend its labour law and EPZ law

to make these of international standards, as the country committed

in International Labour Conference.

AmCham President Md Nurul Islam chaired the meeting, where diplomats and ambassadors of different countries and businessmen, including Farooq Sobhan and President of International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh Mahbudur Rahman were present, among others.

    smunima@yahoo.com

 

 
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