US ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat has said the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) does not give any extra benefit to ready-made garments from any country, even as Bangladesh presses for the restoration of the privilege.
“All GSP countries pay the same duties,” she said on Sunday in a Facebook chat marking a year of her term in Bangladesh.
The US is the single largest importer of Bangladeshi clothes, though the country is not given GSP benefits.
The government and garment leaders often claim they have to pay more than other countries by way of duties to access the US market.
But the US has consistently denied this allegation.
The ambassador, who arrived in Dhaka on Jan 25 last year, said in a video message earlier on Sunday that US-Bangladesh relations were growing.
In Sunday’s Facebook chat, she focused on the clothing sector in the wake of the recent review of the Sustainable Compact.
The Compact had been jointly agreed on by the Bangladesh government, the EU, the US and the ILO in 2013 in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza building collapse to ensure workers’ rights and safety.
The US revoked the GSP privileges Bangladesh enjoyed on a few products after the accident and rolled out a 16-point action plan for improving working conditions.
Washington acknowledges the progress made so far made, but says more needs to be done to get the privileges back.
The ambassador said the GSP restoration would depend on the progress the Bangladesh government made under the ‘action plan’.
She said that ensuring workers' rights was essential for a country to get GSP facilities.
She said many people were working to safeguard workers’ rights and that safety standards had “improved”.
“The US is part of this effort and will continue to be until Bangladesh can demonstrate progress in areas such as expeditious union registration and for factories to fix the safety problems that were identified during the initial assessments”.
She said these improvements would “benefit most of all the workers and factory owners here in Bangladesh”.
She, however, hoped that trade would continue to grow in the US market.
Bernicat, who has travelled to many places in Bangladesh during the past one year, said some of her favourite moments so far were while travelling by train from Dhaka to Rajshahi.
“I saw jute being harvested and met so many amazing people during my visit to the city and countryside.”