Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – The European Union (EU) has assured Bangladesh of not following the United States regarding the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) privileges, a top apparel trade leader said.
 “We thanked the EU for assuring us of not following the United States stance about GSP facilities,” M Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told BBN in Dhaka on Friday.
Earlier on June 30, the EU said it wished to remain engaged with Bangladesh so that it can preserve the preferential access to the EU market.
“The GSP provided by the EU benefits all products from Bangladesh under its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. This means that a decision to withdraw the EU GSP for Bangladesh must be avoided, as it would have far-reaching consequences for jobs and for the economy,” the EU said in a statement.
The US on June 27 suspended the GSP facilities for Bangladesh after a six-year review exposed ‘serious shortcomings’ in safety and labour standards.
Following the US move, businesses in Bangladesh became worried that any move of EU, the largest trading partner of Bangladesh, suspending GSP would hurt the apparel and clothing sectors.
The BGMEA chief, however, said the multi-billion dollar RMG industry is now passing through a critical juncture as conspiracies both at home and abroad are being hatched in the sector. 
“Of course the sector is suffering from conspiracies. A section has been hatching conspiracies in a bid to drive away its investment to the country’s competitors,” Mr. Islam noted.
On the other hand, EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht will host a meeting in Geneva on July 8 which will be attended by a high-level representation from the government of Bangladesh, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the US government. 
There will be also representatives from the readymade garment (RMG) exporters’ association, from some leading buyers, as well as from the trade unions. 
The meeting entitled – “Staying Engaged – A Sustainability Compact with Bangladesh” will focus on agreeing on labour rights, safety and health at work, and responsible business conduct.
BBN/SSR/AD-05July13-10:12 pm (BST)