The BNP has blamed the government’s ‘flawed’ foreign policy for Bangladesh losing the GSP facility in the US market but offered help to get preferential trade benefits back.
Spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon said the GSP suspension was a matter of ‘grave concern’ for the country.
“Bangladesh has certainly been harmed by not getting back GSP,” he told reporters on Tuesday, reacting to the latest development.
“The BNP is worried.”
A list of countries entitled to duty-free access in the US market did not include Bangladesh.
It came as a blow to Dhaka that claimed to have fulfilled all conditions laid out by Washington to get the facility back.
The Obama administration suspended the facility on June 27, 2013 in the aftermath of workers’ deaths in Tazreen Fashions Limited and Rana Plaza collapse.
The decision will likely have little impact on Bangladesh’s multi-billion dollar readymade garment export as it was not included under the GSP.
But Ripon said, “The [latest] move will have a negative impact on the country’s export-oriented readymade garment sector.”
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said he suspected the decision was influenced by “political reasons” and that the government would not make efforts to revive it.
Asaduzzaman Ripon (File Photo)
As many as 5,000 types of Bangladeshi goods enjoyed duty-free access to the US market under the facility but it did not cover RMG products, Bangladesh’s main source of export income.
The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) website says the facility is still suspended for Bangladesh and that it is closely observing the country’s labour rights scenario.
Ripon said his party was in favour of getting the facility.
“We need the GSP, we deserve it,” he said. “We want to work together [with the government] to realise this demand.”
The Awami League-led government returned to power for a second consecutive time through the last general elections boycotted by the BNP and its allies.
Several ministers have openly criticised the US position that the polls were not credible.
Ripon blamed diplomatic failure for the GSP denial.
“Today’s media reports suggested bitter bilateral ties was behind the GSP denial,” he claimed.
He said US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal was of Indian origin. “She may have the same skin colour as ours. But that doesn’t mean we can call her a two-penny minister.”
His jab was aimed at the new Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam who in March last year called Biswal ‘petty’, ‘worthless’ and a ‘two-penny minister’.
The BNP claimed such comments had dented the bilateral relations.
Source: Bd news24