BD won’t get US funding unless qualified for US GSP
The US ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and USAID Deputy Administrator IIsobel Coleman said separately that Bangladesh will not be receiving funding from the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) until it (Bangladesh) qualifies for US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
The US Congress gave DFC approval to invest $ 60 billion in various countries. DFC partners with US businesses to develop projects in sectors such as energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology.
Both the US officials made identical remarks during the recent visit of a 25-member United States business team of the US-Bangladesh Business Council to Dhaka was visiting Dhaka.
US ambassador Peter Haas and IIsobel Coleman made these remarks in different programmes at "US-Bangladesh Economic Forum" and at a press briefing at the American Centre in the capital.
"We hope that Bangladesh will soon make progress on labor rights and workplace safety so it can qualify for DFC and attract more US trade and investment," the US Ambassador remarked on Tuesday night. He expressed his concern over the state of labour rights in Bangladesh. He said that Bangladesh is not being provided DFC funding due to concern about workers' rights and the suspension of GSP.
"Concerns over labor rights and working conditions cost Bangladesh access to the US Generalized System of Preferences trade benefit, or GSP, in 2013. The European Union has given notice that the same concerns will determine if its trade benefits for Bangladesh continue after it becomes a middle-income country," Hass said.
"DFC would be an ideal financing source for projects in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, until Bangladesh qualifies for GSP it cannot qualify for DFC financing. We hope that Bangladesh will soon make progress on labor rights and workplace safety so it can qualify for DFC and attract more US trade and investment," he pointed out.
In short, together we have the foundation on which to expand our economic relationship. But in order to take things to the next level, two things must happen. First, American companies and investors must become more aware of the opportunities Bangladesh presents. Second, Bangladesh must be ready to welcome American businesses who do come here, Hass comments.
"Can Bangladesh say it fully understands the impact on business of proposed regulations? For example, does the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission understand how its proposed rules governing data protection online content will force digital businesses to reconsider investing in Bangladesh," he asked.
A company considering doing business overseas will certainly want to see a developed transportation system, access to power and water, and a well-trained workforce. Bangladesh has made great strides in filling these needs. But a company also wants certainty. A company wants a policy framework that is understood and laws that are consistently enforced. A company wants confidence its intellectual property will be protected. A company wants to know that if a dispute arises it has access to courts that can quickly and fairly settle it, the US Ambassador said.
"Bangladesh will not be receiving funding from the DFC due to shortcomings in ensuring workers' rights, including safe workplace environment and unhindered functioning of trade unions for workers," IIsobel Coleman, deputy administrator of USAID said on Wednesday echoing the ambassador's comments over DFC financing in Bangladesh.
The visit included high-level meetings including leaders of the trade bodies, the US Embassy and USAID in Bangladesh and key decision-makers in the government of Bangladesh including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen, cabinet-level, secretary-level officials, and regulators.