Following a series of deadly garment factory accidents and a sudden rise in labor unrest in Bangladesh, the U.S. government has decided to suspend trade privileges with the Asian country. A formal announcement, according to the Obama administration and Congressional aides, is expected to be made later today. The move comes as labor officials – in the U.S. and abroad – have criticized Bangladesh for not adequately addressing safety concerns and for repeatedly violating the rights of workers.
The reported suspension will, at least in part, revoke Bangladesh's ability to export almost 5,000 products duty-free to the U.S. Currently, under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Generalized System of Preferences, more than 125 nations, including Bangladesh, receive breaks on U.S. tariffs. Reports from Capitol Hill indicate Bangladesh will not be permanently removed from the WTO program, and will be given a chance to improve conditions under greater international scrutiny.
Officially, the decision to penalize Bangladesh is in response to a complaint made by the A.F.L.-C.I.O in 2007. The complaint took on more importance after a factory fire in Dhaka last November and after a factory building collapsed in Savar two months ago, killing 1,129 workers. Follow Counselor PromoGram for more on this developing story.