Bangladesh's commercial privilege in US markets was again denied, as the government of President Donald Trump continues to impose eligibility for the program of trade preferences this week.
Bangladesh's Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) was suspended in June 2013 after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April, citing reasons for poor labor rights and unsafe working conditions in the country. factories.
The then Obama administration also gave 16 conditions to fulfill to regain the trade privilege. Bangladesh fulfilled the conditions and submitted two reports to the US Trade Representative (USTR).
But the United States has not restored trade privilege, now citing poor labor rights.
In addition, in this year's review, Bangladesh could not remove from the list of suspended countries the benefits of the GSP although some decisions were made as part of the program of implementation of the trade preferences in 2017.
For example, Argentina was reinstated in the GSP program, effective January 1, 2018, following the settlement of certain arbitration disputes with US companies.
The United States has also restored trade benefits for The Gambia and Swaziland under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
"President Trump made it clear that the United States would vigorously apply the eligibility criteria for preferential access to the US market," said Ambassador Robert E Lighthizer, USTR and chief negotiator for the Trump administration, in a statement. December 22nd.
"Beneficiary countries choose either to work with the USTR to meet the eligibility criteria of trade preferences, or to face enforcement action. 39 is committed to ensuring that other countries maintain their position in our trade relations, "according to the statement.
"We no longer expect the reinstatement of the GSP on the US market since the US government has given new conditions in Bangladesh," said a senior official of the Ministry of Commerce, asking not to be named.
Although the 16 conditions have been met, the United States is now demanding changes to the labor laws for factories located in the export processing zones, which is in contradiction with the main directives of the law. on EPZs. .
In addition, Bangladesh has already submitted to the International Labor Organization the draft amendment of the Labor Law for opinion of its committee of experts.
Workplace safety in Bangladesh has already been applauded all over the world after inspection and repair of garment factories by the Accord and the Alliance in correcting the flaws in the structural aspects , fires and electric, according to the manager.
The United States is Bangladesh's main export destination. As a less advanced country, 97 percent of goods originating in Bangladesh benefit from duty-free benefits on exports to US markets, in accordance with the decision of the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization. trade of 2005.
However, the country's main export product, clothing, has not been included in this "97% package", although clothing items account for 95% of Bangladeshi exports to the states United States in one year.
As a result, Bangladeshi exporters face a 15.62% tariff on apparel exports to US markets, although some competing countries like China, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Japan are likely to be in the US. India are facing a lot less.
The United States Government does not authorize the GSP on the articles of clothing of any country and the law differs from one country to the other.
In 2012, the total value of Bangladesh's imports to the United States under the GSP was $ 34.7 million. The main imports from Bangladesh under the GSP included tobacco, sports equipment, porcelain and plastic products.
The SGP program has allowed American businesses to save nearly $ 730 million in import duties in 2016 and is expected to save even more in 2017, according to the American Apparel Footwear Association ( AAFA).
When the GSP expired from August 2013 to July 2015, US companies paid $ 1.3 billion more in taxes pending re-authorization of Congress, said the AFOA.