Wednesday, June 19, 2024

GSP suspension, a wrong move: US think tank

The suspension of GSP benefits for Bangladesh by the US Administration was a wrong move, which will only hurt Bangladesh’s poor and damage the trade relations between Dhaka and Washington, said an article, appeared on Tuesday on the Issue Brief on Asia and the Pacific of the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank. Ambassador Terry Miller and Ryan Olsen of the foundation wrote the article titled ‘Punitive Trade Sanctions on Bangladesh Not the Way to Improve Labor Conditions.’
The writers have called upon the Obama Administration to revoke the suspension saying that if the Administration fails to do so the Congress should act.
“In response to poor labor conditions in Bangladesh, the Obama Administration has moved to unilaterally impose trade sanctions by removing the country’s privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). These actions follow two prominent workplace tragedies that have killed over 1,200 Bangladeshi workers in the past year,” said the article.
“While these tragedies are horrific, the Administration’s policies will be ineffective in promoting improvements in working conditions. Instead, imposing trade sanctions will only hurt Bangladesh’s poor and damage burgeoning trade relations,” it added.
The article described the GSP suspension by the Obama Administration as a wrong move, saying, “This move is punitive and off-target.”
“In reality, the GSP covered only 118 products and $34.7 million in imports from Bangladesh in 2012. This is less than 1 percent of the $5 billion in total imports that Bangladesh ships to the US each year. In particular, it will have little effect on the garment industry, which is largely exempt from GSP duty-free status,”
it said.
Instead of specifically targeting the garment industry, removing GSP privileges arbitrarily punishes industries that are unrelated to the recent tragedies, stated the article.
It said, “Over 30 percent of covered products in 2012 are agricultural goods and inputs. Over 50 percent of those who live in rural areas are considered poor and rural workers make only about half as much per year as their urban counterparts. Yet it is these workers, not the garment industry, who will bear the burden of new
tariffs.”
“These punitive actions will only hurt the poorest Bangladeshis and are bound to further depress employment in a country that is already suffering,” it added.
“The recent workplace tragedies that have befallen Bangladesh are horrific and highlight concerning workplace conditions. However, the President’s move to punish Bangladesh by imposing trade sanctions is misplaced,” it said.
“Instead, if the President truly wants to improve the lives and well-being of workers, he should encourage free trade, work to lower barriers and increase economic dialogue with Bangladeshi authorities,” the article said.

-With The Independent input

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