Bangladesh Delegation Defends Trade Status in Washington

Officials from Bangladesh are lobbying U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration not to revoke trade preferences as it reviews worker-safety conditions in the Asian nation.

A delegation from Bangladesh met with officials from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office on May 15 to discuss the agency’s study of the trade benefits, agency spokeswoman Kate Villarreal said today in an e-mail.

The April 24 collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,000 people, has highlighted the nation’s worker-safety conditions.

The trade representative’s office said in a Jan. 8 notice in the Federal Register that “the lack of progress by the government of Bangladesh in addressing worker rights issues in the country warrants consideration of possible withdrawal, suspension or limitation Bangladesh’s trade benefits.”

The agency is scheduled to decide in June whether to pursue the matter further.

Bangladesh participates in a U.S. program known as the Generalized System of Preferences, which allows zero or reduced tariffs on some products imported into the U.S. from developing countries.

Officials from Bangladesh met with officials from the trade office and other U.S. agencies on the trade-preference review, Villarreal said.

“The information provided by the Bangladeshi delegation will be taken into account as the administration considers next steps in the GSP review,” she said.

Officials from the Bangladeshi Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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