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Bangladesh grapples with GSP issue

How soon Bangladesh will get back its GSP benefit in the US market is uncertain. The US is apparently not satisfied with the progress made by Bangladesh in ensuring workers’ rights and safety issues in the apparel sector. In June 2013, the US suspended Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits for Bangladesh. It provided the government of Bangladesh with an action plan which the country would have to implement to get back GSP trade benefits. However, the US says that Bangladesh has not yet implemented substantial parts of the action plan.

It says Bangladesh is behind schedule to carry out hundreds of critical safety inspections in garment factories, as well as meeting its commitments to hire additional inspectors. It says the government has been slow to respond to continuing reports of harassment and violence against labor activists.

However, progress in some areas has taken place. More than 100 new unions have been registered since June, 2013. Criminal charges against labor activists have been dropped. The government is cooperating with Accord and Alliance as part of the plan to inspect garment factories and production in about 20 factories has been suspended due to structural flaws.

In 2012, top GSP imports to the US from Bangladesh included tobacco, sports equipment, porcelain china, and plastic products.