US to work with Bangladesh on GSP restoration: US state dept

June 30, 2013

The United States will work with Bangladesh to take the steps needed to potentially restore its GSP privileges that were suspended on Thursday.
Patrick Ventrell, Director of the Press office at the US State Department, made the remarks while replying to queries on GSP suspension at a regular press briefing in Washington on Friday. However, he said, “That requires going through a process so that Bangladesh can make improvements.”
About the suspension, the official said, “Let me note that the United States believes that this moment represents an opportunity for Bangladesh to take action to improve labor and safety standards.”
“So, we’ll continue to work with them so that they can take additional substantive actions to improve worker safety. Successfully addressing these underlying labor rights and workplace safety issues will help ensure that there’s never again another fire or collapse like we saw in some of these horrific incidents,” he said.
When pressed to clarify if the suspension was really an opportunity for Bangladesh, Ventrell said, “Right. This is an opportunity that they (Bangladesh) need to take advantage of.”
Asked how punishing could be called an opportunity, he said, “Well, this crystallizes their decision-making. We want to see the Bangladeshi economy succeed.”
Asked if the US government had heard anything from the Bangladesh government in this regard, Ventrell said, “I’m not sure if they’ve been in direct contact with us since this announcement.”
“We think that there are important economic opportunities to lift more people out of poverty into the middle class and there are great economic opportunities. But it has to be done in the context of better labor and safety standards, which, I think we’ve seen, because of these really horrific incidents what a key need that is,” he said.
Ventrell further said, “We need to see improvement in worker and safety rights, including the right to freely associate and engage in collective bargaining.”
“I don’t think here from the State Department podium I can get into all the necessary actions. I’d really refer you to the United States Trade Representative about the specifics, but that’s sort of the broad areas that we’re looking to cooperate with the Bangladeshis on labor concerns,” he added.
To another question, the spokesperson said, there were many members of the House of Representatives and Senate who shared the US Administration’s concern that “we help Bangladesh improve its economy and lift people out of poverty, but at the same time do so in a way that – where we have factories that maintain fire safety standards, factories that are structurally sound, and improve worker safety conditions.”
These are broadly shared by the both Houses on the Capitol Hill and the Administration,” he said.
Responding to a query regarding violence in Bangladesh, Ventrell said, “Clearly, we want to get their economy improving. We want to help as they consolidate on democratic reforms.”

-With The Independent input

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