US Congressman Sander Levin has said the Obama administration’s decision to suspend GSP facilities was not to be interpreted as a stand against Bangladesh.
He made the comment at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office on Tuesday, a day after arriving in Dhaka on a three-day visit.
Her Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told journalists Hasina hoped that ‘good actions’ taken by her government would help reinstate the preferential trade facilities by this year.
Levin is a Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee that has jurisdiction over all tax, trade and economic growth policies and entitlement spending, including social security, medicare, welfare and unemployment compensation.
Washington suspended GSP trade benefits for Bangladesh in the American market “because of its failure to meet labour eligibility criteria”, the House Ways and Means Committee says.
The US government took the decision in June following frequent fire incidents in the garment factories and worst-ever building collapse in Savar.
Levin had applauded the decision and urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a letter with House Democratic leaders to join in “a comprehensive, concrete and coordinated plan to ensure worker safety and secure workers’ rights in Bangladesh”.
He had also called upon nine separate US retailers following worst-ever Savar building collapse to join a global coalition supporting a May 12 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, developed by the Worker Rights Consortium and a number of key stakeholders.
The Press Secretary Azad said Levin hoped that Bangladesh's RMG sector would see further development with united efforts from all stakeholders including the buyers and retailers.
He also said the buyers and retailers have to play their due role towards development of this sector.
The Prime Minister said soon after the Rana Plaza incident, her government took all steps that could be taken at the quickest possible time for smooth rescue operation as well as treatment of the injured.
She also listed steps her government had taken after the collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers.
Bangladesh adopted a new labour law to protect rights of the working class, she added.
The government also started the process of appointing 200 workers and setting up seven firefighting stations to improve factory safety.
During his visit, Levin is expected to visit multiple garment factories, meet with factory workers and business leaders as well as high-ranking government officials and NGO officials.
After meeting with the Prime Minister, Levin also saw Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at the State Guest House Padma.
After the meeting, the minister hosted a lunch in honour of the US delegation.
Levin’s spouse Pamela Levin, US Ambassador to Dhaka Dan Mozena, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Nilufer Zafar Ullah MP, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, senior government officials and business leaders joined the lunch.
Source: Bd news24