US move to cut trade GSP privileges ‘shocking’: Bangladesh

DHAKA, June 28, 2013 (AFP) – A furious Bangladesh on Friday criticised a “shocking” decision by the United States to cut trade privileges after a deadly garment factory collapse, insisting it had taken concrete action to improve safety. In his announcement that Bangladesh was losing its duty-free trade privileges, US President Barack Obama said the Dhaka government had failed to protect the fundamental rights of workers.

But Bangladeshi officials, desperate to persuade major Western fashion retailers to stay put, said it had enacted a series of reforms since the April 24 collapse of a factory complex in which 1,129 people were killed — the latest in a series of disasters to blight the industry.

“It cannot be more shocking for the factory workers of Bangladesh that the decision … comes at a time when the government of Bangladesh has taken concrete and visible measures to improve factory safety and protect workers’ rights,” a foreign ministry statement said.

“While Bangladesh is absolutely respectful of a trading partner’s choice of decisions, it expresses its deep concern that this harsh measure may bring in fresh obstacles in an otherwise flourishing bilateral trade.”

The duty-free trade privileges had been accorde