Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh will finalize answers to the queries for post-hearing brief sought by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Saturday to retain the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), officials said.
“We’ve discussed the matter with the stakeholders. We hope we will be able to finalize our answers to the queries on April 20,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told the Financial Express (FE), a local newspaper, on Thursday.
Earlier, an inter-ministerial meeting was held on April 18, 2013 aiming to finalize answers for post-hearing briefs the country must submit through online to USTR by April 24, 2013.
Responding to the observations made by the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) a Bangladesh delegation led by commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed appeared before the USTR on March 28, 2013 over the workers’ rights and their safety.
The USTR in the post-hearing briefs wants to know if the country has taken any action in the matters raised by the AFL-CIO in its pre-hearing brief including fire incidents in some garment factories recently and labour rights. 
Bangladesh will have to make its position clear to USTR on 19 issues that include labour rights, workplace safety in the garment factories and registration of trade union bodies.
The USTR also wants to know about the status of the mechanism by which Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) could fund institutions and personnel for protecting the interests of the labourers and about the outcome of investigations into the incident of murder of labour leader Aminul. 
The USTR had earlier issued a notification on January 8, 2013 seeking public comments on the effects of possible withdrawal, suspension or limitation of GSP benefits on products imported by the US from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh put forward its request to the USTR on January 29, 2013 for continuation of the GSP facility in the US market.
The GSP facility covers only 0.54 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports to the USA, which was to the tune of US$ 26 million as against Bangladesh’s aggregate exports worth $ 4.91 billion to the US market during the fiscal year (FY), 2011- 2012.
BBN/SSR/AD-20Apr13-2:30 pm (BST)