The US believes Bangladesh needs the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility to enhance its export in US markets and remain competitive with other countries, as GSP is the only duty-free facility of the US for developing countries.
However, a US Embassy officials in Dhaka say there was no petition by the Bangladeshi government to reinstate the facility post 2015. GSP facility was suspended post the Rana Plaza blaze in 2013. "Bangladesh never requested for GSP facility after 2015, but every year it is reviewed," he said.
However, if a petition is now made (to get the facility), it will have to go through 16 points, which include labour law reform as per the international standards as well as freedom of association and trade unionism in the country's EPZs. The country has made significant progress in improving labour situation, but it is still far behind from the standards set by International Labour Organisation (ILO). The number of labour union registration, which increased in 2014 and 2015, has decreased significantly, and it is also against the GSP action plan, he pointed out.
The US-Bangladesh investment relations is based on garment export, enjoying the largest market in America. But the US Embassy records $80 million less export last year when compared to the previous year. US-Bangladesh relations is expected to grow significantly in 2018 as the US Embassy foresees huge opportunity for US investors in Bangladesh. Many US companies have shown interest in investment in Bangladesh, considering the immense potentials in local oil, gas and energy.
Sustainable economic growth and growing middle class have also made the country attractive to the US consumer producers. But lack of infrastructure and regulations are among the difficulties that the companies face when considering investing in Bangladesh. The US expects that the country's export list will be diversified focusing more on value added products.