After receiving mounting pressure since 2007, the Obama administration announced plans to suspend trade privileges with Bangladesh. Trade experts said this decision could deliver a resounding blow to Bangladesh’s reputation, and is a move that intends to apply pressure, improve factory safety, and end what DC sees as agregious violations of worker’s rights.
All of this comes after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in April of this year, killing 1,129 workers. Deemed the worst industrial accident in the apparel manufacturing, the suspension of special privileges to Bangladesh hopes to improve conditions in the country’s huge garment industry.
Bangladesh is one of 125 countries allowed to export some 5,000 products, duty-free, to the U.S. in the interest of promoting economic growth. Today, Americans purchase about 25% of the $18 million worth of annual clothing exports.
As a response to pressure by both labor unions and Democrats on Capital Hill, President Obama said he was suspending the privileges, effective in 60 days, because Bangladesh was “not taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights to workers in that country.”
The suspension will move to revoke the breaks on tariffs that the United States gives Bangladesh under the Generalized System of Preferences, a World Trade Organization program that promotes economic growth–
The suspension will have a limited impact, as it will only affect less than 1 percent of America’s $4.9 billion in annual imports from Bangladesh.
Administration officials said they have offered Bangladesh a road map for steps it needs to take to have its trade privileges restored.