GSP recommendations go to US President May 31

The interagency Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), which held the hearing on the continuation of GSP benefits for Bangladeshi products, is due to submit its recommendations to US President Barack Obama at the end of this month. “We have information from the US State Department that the recommendations of GSP subcommittee of TPSC will be submitted to the US President on May 31,” a top government official told The Independent on Tuesday.
He said, “The recommendations were due to be submitted to the US President on May 17. But, they decided to delay by two more weeks presumably due to a high-profile Bangladeshi delegation’s visit to Washington prior to May 17.”
The delegation, led by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, had a lengthy meeting with all the members the GSP subcommittee as well as some other officials of the US administration.
Another official said that the second Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue to be held in Dhaka on May 26-27 might be another reason behind the delay.
Any decision in this regard will come into effect after the signature of the US President.
Based on a petition by influential US labour organization AFL-CIO, the GSP subcommittee held a public hearing on March 28 in Washington. Later, the committee put forward 19 questions for further clarification. Bangladesh submitted its reply on April 24, the day Rana Plaza collapsed.
About the prospect of the continuation of GSP benefits for Bangladeshi products, the top official said, “To be honest, things are not looking good for Bangladesh in terms of GSP.”
Striking a note of optimism, he said, “The delay in submitting their (the GSP subcommittee) recommendations gave us a hope that things may not yet be over.”
Responding to a query, he said that the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24 had made the things much more difficult for Bangladesh.
Besides, the official said that the thing like the letter written by Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui to US Ambassador Dan W Mozena was not helpful during such a time.
“It has an impact over the bilateral relationship. The headquarter always listens to its Ambassadors abroad,” he said when asked about the impact of the letter.
The Minister wrote in the letter that Ambassador Mozena should be aware of the diplomatic norms and he should not talk about introducing trade unions in Bangladesh factories.
The official further said that though there was no direct link between GSP and proposed Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA), it would have been good for Bangladesh if TICFA was signed.
“Look at Sri Lanka. They get away with serious matters by the help of TIFA,” he said, adding, “TICFA should have been signed long ago.”
Asked about the timing of TICFA signing, he replied, “I don’t know.”

-With The Independent input

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