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GSP plus benefit will not be easy, Bangladesh needs hard work, says EU envoy

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 15th November, 2021 07:06:57 PM
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GSP plus benefit will not be easy, Bangladesh needs hard work, says EU envoy

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Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley has said it is encouraging that Bangladesh has already started working to avail of GSP Plus benefit from the 27-nation block reasling that it needs hard work and attention due to the complex procedure.

“It’s very heartening that Bangladesh is already engaging in that,” he said, adding that it is very encouraging to see awareness in Bangladesh that it needs work and attention and it will not be easy.

The EU envoy made the remarks while responding to a question at “DCAB Talk” held at InterContinental Dhaka on Monday (Nov 15). Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) President Pantho Rahaman and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the event.

On the GSP Plus issue, the EU envoy said this is not going to be a picnic in terms of the GSP plus rather it will be a difficult process.

Ambassador Charles Whiteley, who previously served in Bangladesh as senior diplomat, said the EU is very happy that as a Least Developed Country - now poised to graduate to developing country status - Bangladesh has made good use of duty- and quota- free access to the EU market, garnering over a 60% share of global imports to the EU under the ‘Everything But Arms’ system.

“Everything but Arms (EBA) has helped Bangladesh and he thanked Bangladesh for the high quality clothing that they get from Bangladesh,” he addede

Bangladesh suggested an extension of the existing DFQF market access for Bangladesh in the European market by nine years beyond the three years of leeway after the graduation. Bangladesh can still enjoy the duty-free quota-free market access after 2026 up to 2029.

The EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) gives developing countries a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance. Eligible countries have to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, the environment and good governance.

Turning to future election, the EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation said they will be following the next general elections “very closely” because the international community is “very interested” in what happens in Bangladesh amid its growing engagement globally as a developing economic power house.

“I think we’ll be following it very closely. Why we’ll be following it very closely is not because we want to interfere but the international community is very interested in what happens in Bangladesh,” he said.

Ambassador Charles Whiteley said everybody has a stake on what happens in that election in Bangladesh which is a strategic part of this region and a developing economic power house where ties are developing.

Ambassador Whiteley said the key word around elections is exactly the “process” and elections are not events. The process involves long preparations and legislative framework; and noted that the next election is still two years away. He said.

“I think the bottom line is in any election, average citizens wake up the day after the election and see the results and say my vote is counted,” said the EU envoy.

In reply to a question on the Digital Security Act, Ambassador Whiteley referred to what they discussed at the EU-Bangladesh Diplomatic Consultations held in Brussels last month.

The EU raised the issue of the DSA, expressing concerns that some of its provisions risk going beyond the stated purpose of fighting digital crime and also inquired about certain ongoing trials in this context.

The EU encouraged Bangladesh to implement the recommendations made during the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Bangladesh side provided updates and shared its perspectives in this regard.

On another question about the Rohingya issue, the EU Ambassador said they do have an arms embargo on Myanmar and stopped export of weapons that could be used to suppress the population. “We can’t stop the trade entirely. I don’t see any virtue in stopping proper investment with proper scrutiny.”

The EU has already imposed sanctions on several senior officials and organizations in Myanmar over the military coup in February and the security crackdown that followed.

He further said the EU also imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 8 officials and froze the assets of 3 “economic entities” and the War Veterans Organization. Those targeted include ministers, deputy ministers and the attorney general, whom the EU blames for “undermining democracy and the rule of law, and for serious human rights violations.”