Bangladesh has urged the European Union (EU) to consider textile threshold criteria for Bangladesh in the newly proposed GSP provisions.
A delegation led by Mohammad Tofazzel Hossain Miah, principal secretary to the prime minister, paid a visit to Heidi Hautala, vice-president of the European Parliament, in Brussels Thursday.
It also included Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Faruque Hassan, Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Bangladesh Ambassador to Belgium Mahbub Hassan Saleh, and former Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nihad Kabir.
The issues of bilateral trade, LDC graduation, the proposed EU GSP scheme for 2024-2034, challenges, and preparedness to address them and the continuation of the development momentum of Bangladesh were highlighted at the meeting.
Stressing the significance of the EU's continued support for Bangladesh's smooth LDC graduation, the delegation urged the international organisation to extend the transition period from three years to six years.
At the meeting, Faruque said apparel exports from Bangladesh had immensely benefited from LDC-specific trade preferences under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) scheme.
The readymade garment (RMG) industry has made a significant contribution to the socioeconomic development of Bangladesh, especially poverty alleviation through employment creation and empowerment of women who make up 60 percent of the total apparel workforce, he said.
That is why such trade preference from the EU remains extremely important and relevant for Bangladesh even after LDC graduation so that the country's development journey continues, Faruque added.
As per the proposed provisions Bangladesh is likely to qualify for GSP+ after its LDC graduation but the specified EU "safeguards" would exclude the country's clothing exports from any tariff preferences.
Bangladesh's apparel sector would not benefit from the GSP+ facility and would lose competitiveness in the EU market, which would hurt the RMG sector and millions of lives who depend on the industry for their livelihood, the delegation said.
It hoped that the EU would consider the issues and would continue to support Bangladesh so that the momentum behind the country's economic growth continues after LDC graduation.
The two sides also discussed other issues, including trade and investment, Everything But Arms (EBA), and Bangladesh's relations with the EU in the post-LDC era.
The Bangladesh side highlighted the importance of specific trade preferences under the EU's GSP for the development of Bangladesh.