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GSP revival for BD may be considered next month

2013-02-03__bs01The GSP (generalised system of preferences) scheme of the United States may be renewed next month, creating a hope for the revival of its benefit for Bangladeshi products to the US market, Bangladesh trade officials have said.

The US GSP scheme expired last July depriving the poor countries of tariff benefits granted under the facility, they said.   The GSP renewal bill is likely to be placed before the House of Representatives and the Senate for consideration next month.

“We are hopeful that renewal of the scheme will create opportunities for revival of the benefit for Bangladeshi products as well. We have already made significant progresses in safety and labour welfare fronts and the progress is expected to satisfy the GSP review committee,” a senior commerce ministry official said while talking to the FE Monday.

He said renewal of the scheme remains a pre-requisite for revival the benefit for Bangladesh. “We will be able to argue further for revival of the benefit once the scheme is renewed.”

The GSP scheme expired last year. Since then products of the GSP beneficiary countries have been entering the US paying usual duties. Before expiry on July 31 last year some 5,000 products of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories were enjoying duty free access to the US market.

The US administration suspended GSP facility for Bangladeshi products to its market on June 27 last year citing serious shortcomings in safety standards and workers’ rights in its factories. Bangladesh had been enjoying the GSP facility since 1976, when the US government introduced the privilege to support poor economies.

Commercial counsellor at Bangladesh embassy in Washington Shafiqul Islam in a recent letter to the ministry of commerce (MoC) said following Russian invasion of Ukraine the US wants to help the latter through the GSP scheme. That is why the US wants early renewal the scheme, Islam mentioned in his latter.

He said the United States Trade Representative Michael Froman has testified recently before the Ways and Means committee that quick renewal of GSP scheme was necessary to help Ukraine.

Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Ron Wuden recently in a statement also indicated renewal of the GSP scheme as early as possible.

“I look forward to extending this important programme as quickly as possible so that it may continue creating opportunities for US companies to build economic ties with developing countries and drive economic growth,” he said in a recent statement.

According to Mr Islam, there are still two major hurdles in the way of getting the GSP renewed.

“One is on how to offset the revenue lost from eliminating duties on GSP imports, and another is whether to allow the retro-active effects or not,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US administration has decided to exclude Russia as a beneficiary of GSP scheme since the country has already attained significant economic growth.

Another senior MoC official told the FE Monday revival of GSP facility for Bangladeshi products to the US market depended on making significant progress in various fields mentioned in the US Action Plan.

He said, to get the facility revived, Bangladesh will have to wait until the scheme itself is renewed for all.

However, he was hopeful that the facility might be revived for Bangladesh immediately after renewal of the scheme since ‘significant progresses have already been made’ as per the US requirements.

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Report: Syful Islam
Source: Financial Express

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