Commerce minister urges US to restore GSP facilities to Bangladesh

MNA Business Desk: In contrast to his predecessor, new Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has urged the United States to give the GSP privilege back to Bangladesh.

Inaugurating the US Trade Show 2019 on Thursday, he said it became an “image issue” and once the GSP scheme is restored, “this will give us a new image”.

US Ambassador Earl Miller was also present at the event in Dhaka.

The US revoked the GSP facilities on June 27, 2013, following two major industrial accidents in Bangladesh – Tazreen Fashion fire in 2012 and Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.

Under the GSP programme, Bangladesh had benefited from exporting around 5,000 different items to the US market tariff-free.

The Obama administration had placed a set of conditions including improvement of the working conditions in RMG factories to revive the GSP facilities, according to a bdnews24 report.

Bangladesh has made considerable progress in improving RMG factory environment and worked on other conditions, but the US has not yet restored the GSP facilities.

Immediate past Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed last year said Bangladesh was not expecting trade privileges from the GSP programme of the US and would not request for it anymore.

“We don’t expect the GSP facilities from the US anymore because whatever progress we make they are not going to give it back,” Tofail had said.

The new commerce minister, however, expects that the new US ambassador who joined in Dhaka in November last year would help reinstate the GSP scheme.

“I am very much hopeful things will be settled in future,” he said.

The US Trade Show is the flagship event of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh or AmCham. Jointly with the US Embassy in Dhaka, they have been organising the event since 1992 when the bilateral trade was less than $500 million. The two-way trade is now over $8 billion.

This year 46 exhibitors occupying 74 booths are displaying their products and services. Two seminars – Education USA and Business Visas – will be held during the three-day show at the Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel.

Diagnostic Automation Inc, Parasound, The Kelllogg Company, and Apple are among the newcomers in this year’s showcase.

The ambassador said he looked forward “to working with Minister Munshi toward our mutual goal of increasing trade and investment between our two countries.”

He said this years’ US Trade Show is an “excellent opportunity” to showcase the high quality products and services US companies bring to Bangladesh and recognise the contribution of US companies to Bangladesh’s development.

“The 26th annual US Trade Show comes at an auspicious time for US-Bangladesh trade and investment ties,” he said, adding that US exports to Bangladesh had a “banner year” in 2018.

Exports to Bangladesh reached $2.1 billion, a 43 per cent increase from 2017.


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