Sunday, February 25, 2024

GSP withdrawal for Bangladesh under consideration: US

Decision on next steps by June
The United States on Thursday said withdrawal of Generalised System of Preferences facility for Bangladesh was under consideration and the decision on it would be announced by the end of June.
‘All options remain under consideration, including possible suspension, limitation or withdrawal of GSP benefits,’ said Lewis Karesh, who handles labour issues for the US Trade Representative’s office.
‘The administration will announce a decision on next steps in the GSP review of Bangladesh by the end of June,’ he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The US urged action by the Bangladesh authorities to improve labour rights following a massive factory collapse at Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 24.
After a call by US unions, the Barack Obama’s administration in January launched a review on whether to keep Bangladesh in the GSP, which provides duty-free access for about 5,000 goods to the US.
The review was under way when Rana Plaza, an eight-storey garment factory, crumbled and killed 1,130 people, mostly garment workers, despite concerns expressed previously by workers over the building’s integrity.
Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the committee, sounded supportive on the suspension of Bangladesh. He noted that the GSP did not cover textiles, which were by far the South Asian nation’s largest export to the United States.
‘While only a small fraction of Bangladesh’s exports would be affected, given ongoing violations of the GSP workers’ right criteria, GSP suspension would send a strong signal that the United States is serious about protecting workers and improving workplace safety,’ Menendez said.
‘No one will want to wear a piece of clothing made in Bangladesh if it’s on the blood of workers,’ Menendez said.
But Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, said that Bangladesh had been responsive to appeals by the United States, saying that the country had allowed the registration of 27 trade unions since September.
He said Bangladesh has given assurances its parliament will pass amendments this month to its labour law to address freedom of association and worker safety. But he added, ‘There’s a great deal of corruption and governance challenges that still need to be met.’
‘Our hope is that Bangladesh will seize the current moment to strengthen labour rights and improve working conditions. This administration wants to see Bangladesh succeed,’ Blake said.
Since the Rana Plaza disaster, more than 40 companies — most from Europe — have signed on to an agreement that would include independent monitoring of factory conditions and a stronger role for labour unions.
But only three US companies have joined, with US retail giants Walmart and Gap opposed.
Blake said that the decision to enter the accord was up to each company but that the US government has asked firms ‘to carefully examine what they can do to support improved working conditions in Bangladesh.’
‘Had there been a union representative on the ground at Rana Plaza, that tragedy would not have happened,’ Blake told the hearing.
Senator John McCain cautioned against such hasty US action, warning it could ratchet up unemployment in an impoverished country.
But Celeste Drake, a trade and policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, was scathing about Bangladesh’s failure to respond to a string of deadly industrial accidents.
‘What’s the body count that you need to really make changes?’ she told lawmakers. ‘We are well beyond what anyone would need to see as evidence that the government’s very feeble efforts and the voluntary compliance programs of the corporations simply are not working.’
The AFL-CIO filed the petition seeking withdrawal of GSP benefits in 2007, which was expedited late last year amid concern from US lawmakers over deteriorating labour rights and the April 2012 killing of prominent labour activist, Aminul Islam — a case that has not been solved.
Eric Biel, the Labour Department’s acting associate deputy undersecretary for international affairs, said there currently were less than 100 government inspectors in Bangladesh to monitor between 4,000 and 5,000 factories that employ some 4 million people, 80 per cent of them women.
Bangladesh’s ambassador to the US Akramul Qader, who attended the hearing but did not testify, defended his government’s record, saying it had improved worker rights and increased the minimum wage. Authorities have closed 20 unsafe factories since the Rana Plaza disaster, he said.
‘We are trying our best,’ Qader said.
While the GSP covers less than 1 per cent of Bangladesh’s nearly $5 billion in exports to the US and doesn’t include the lucrative garment sector, it could deter American companies from investing in Bangladesh and sway a decision by European Union, which is also considering withdrawing GSP privileges. EU action could have a much bigger economic impact, as its duty-free privileges cover garments.

-With New Age input

Related News

Shwapno opens new outlet in Pabna

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Popular retail chain shop “Shwapno” has opened a new outlet in Pabna’s Sujanagar at Molla Super Market. The inauguration took place at 5:30pm on 30 December, reads a press release. Present at the event were Ahmed Firoz Kabir, Member of Parliament for Pabna-2 (Sujanagar, Aminpur), Chairman Shahinujjaman Shahin of Sujanagar Upazila, ... Read more

Shwapno launches new outlet at Bashundhara

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Shwapno, the largest retail chain in Bangladesh, launched an outlet in the Bashundhara area on Thursday offering a month-long discount with a home delivery facility. On behalf of Bashundhara Group, media advisor Mohammad Abu Tayeb inaugurated the outlet as guest of honour at the Rupayan shopping centre in the residential area, ... Read more

With ‘Face ID’ and ‘Fingerprint’ login bKash app is now more secure, user-friendly

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com bKash app introduces biometric ‘Face ID’ and ‘Fingerprint’ login features to make users’ daily transactions easier and safer. Alongside, exciting new features – ‘Group Send Money’, ‘Request Money’, ‘Savings Marketplace’ and selecting ‘Default Card’ to use the ‘Add money’ service from VISA card to bKash – are also included in the ... Read more

Grameenphone wins ‘Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards 2023’ in Financial Inclusion

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com It was an evening to rejoice and remember for Grameenphone at the Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards 2023, as the organization’s sincere efforts with flagship initiatives GP Accelerator and GP Academy received due recognition. Renowned media house The Daily Star, along with CSR Window, honored the winners at the Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence ... Read more

Banglalink wins the best sustainability award

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Banglalink has won the ‘Best Sustainability Excellence Initiative’ award in the ‘Disaster Response’ category at the ‘Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards 2023,’ jointly presented by The Daily Star and CSR Window Bangladesh. The award is in recognition of Banglalink’s contribution to societal welfare through the innovative integration of an Early Warning System ... Read more

StanChart wins Mastercard Excellence Awards

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Standard Chartered Bangladesh has clinched awards in three categories at the “Mastercard Excellence Awards 2023”. The categories are “Excellence in Mastercard Contactless (Issuing)”, “Excellence in Mastercard Credit Business (International)”, and “Excellence in Mastercard Business (Innovation)”. Naser Ezaz Bijoy, chief executive officer of the multinational bank, received an award from Atiur Rahman, ... Read more

Nagad wins Mastercard Excellence Award 2023

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Nagad, a popular mobile financial service provider in Bangladesh, has clinched “Mastercard Excellence Award” 2023 for its contribution to credit card bill payments. The mobile money carrier has been honoured with this prestigious award as the “Master Evolution”, reads a press release. On behalf of his company, Nagad’s Executive Director Maruful ... Read more

Prime Bank clinches Mastercard Excellence Awards 2023

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Prime Bank PLC, a leading private commercial bank of the country, has won Mastercard Excellence Awards 2023 for Debit Business (Domestic) category. Nazeem A Choudhury, deputy managing director of the bank, and Masudul Haque Bhuiyan, head of Cards & Alternative Delivery Channel, received the award from Dr Atiur Rahman, former governor ... Read more

Zakia Rouf Chowdhury elected as vice chairman of Bank Asia

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Zakia Rouf Chowdhury has been elected as Vice Chairman of Bank Asia Limited recently at the 508th meeting of the Board of Directors of the bank. She has an illustrious business career of more than 35 years in the private sector of Bangladesh. Since inception, she has been holding leadership positions ... Read more

Yamaha celebrates 7 years with ACI Motors

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com ACI Marts is the sole distributor and technical collaboration partner of Yamaha motorcycles in Bangladesh. ACI Motors started its journey in 2007 as a subsidiary of renowned company ACI Limited. In 2016, Yamaha started a new journey in Bangladesh with ACI Motors. At present, more than 116 Yamaha 3S (Sales, Service ... Read more

Walton boosts TV exports to Denmark, Ireland

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladeshi global electronics brand Walton has boosted up its exports of television to Denmark, Ireland and other European countries as the demand of Walton television goes high in those countries in recent times, according to a press release. Walton Global Business Unit’s Vice-President Syed Al Imran said that Walton has been ... Read more

Mutual Trust Bank launches privilege centres in Dhaka

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Mutual Trust Bank Ltd recently launched its two revamped privilege centres in Dhanmondi and Uttara celebrating “MTB Retail Fest 2023”. Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director and CEO of the bank, inaugurated the centres as the chief guest, said a press release. Privilege Banking customers enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits, ... Read more

Prime Bank Investment launches PrimeInvest

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Prime Bank Investment Ltd (PBIL), a subsidiary of Prime Bank, launched PrimeInvest, a comprehensive discretionary product suite that aims to foster access to investment for individuals and institutional investors. CQK Mustaq Ahmed, chairman of PBIL, inaugurated the product at its head office in Banani in the capital, said a press release. ... Read more

Midland Bank strikes deal with Bangladesh Bank

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Midland Bank Ltd recently signed a participation agreement with the Financial Sector Support and Strategic Planning Department (FSSSPD) of the Bangladesh Bank for availing refinance facility in US dollars. Liza Fahmida, director of the BB department, and Md Ahsan-uz Zaman, managing director of Midland Bank, inked the deal at the BB ... Read more

National Bank signs deal with Bangladesh Bank

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com National Bank Ltd has signed an agreement on “Financial Inclusion Credit Guarantee Scheme” with Bangladesh Bank, aiming to boost financing to cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSME). Manoj Kumar Howlader, director of the credit guarantee department of the central bank, and Md Mehmood Husain, managing director and CEO of National ... Read more

foodpanda and Toffee: Doubling Up on Benefits for Customers

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com foodpanda Bangladesh partnered with Toffee of Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd, a digital streaming entertainment app, to enhance the experience of Toffee subscribers by offering them exclusive foodpanda discount vouchers. An agreement has been signed between Toffee and foodpanda on this partnership on Thursday, reads a press release. Through this partnership, any ... Read more

US-Bangla gets recognition of IATA

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com US-Bangla Airlines, one of the largest airlines in Bangladesh, has become the first domestic private airline to be recognised as an International Air Transport Association (IATA) airline. By 2023, 18 airlines in the world have achieved accreditation as IATA Airlines, among which US-Bangla is one, reads a press release. Although several ... Read more

Emirates crowned as 2024 APEX World Class Airline

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Having mastered the guest experience and providing exceptional customer service, Emirates was recently named a 2024 APEX World Class Airline winner at the 2024 APEX/IFSA Awards, held in Long Beach, California. Emirates is one of just eight airlines globally to achieve this accolade, reads a press release. Emirates also received a ... Read more

LAYS launches campaign with Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar and Taskin Ahmed Tazim

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com Lay’s, one of the world’s most loved potato chip brands under the PepsiCo umbrella, has launched an engaging campaign featuring Bangladesh cricket stars Shakib Al Hasan, Taskin Ahmed and Soumya Sarkar as its brand ambassadors. Together, this dynamic trio will play essential roles in the upcoming Lay’s campaigns, endorsing the brand ... Read more

1,000 can win bKash World Cup Quiz everyday

Business Desk : dhakamirror.com A thousand winners can get Tk50 each everyday by participating in the bKash World Cup quiz. By answering 3 simple cricket related questions in the shortest possible time and making a transaction through bKash app one can win the prize. The quiz competition will continue till October 25, reads a press ... Read more