US to Drop Cushy Trade Deal for Bangladesh

But move to punish poor worker safety is largely symbolic

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 27, 2013 4:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – In the wake of the deadliest garment industry disaster in history, the Obama administration plans to suspend Bangladesh's preferential trade treatment, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The US currently has a "global system of preferences" that exempts certain developing countries from tariffs, including Bangladesh. Nine Senate democrats recently sent Obama a letter urging him to cut Bangladesh out of the deal to punish it for its safety failures.

But the move is something of a slap on the wrist, because the program doesn't cover clothing—and the garment industry represents the overwhelming majority of Bangladesh's exports. So while things like dinnerware or golf clubs could soon be facing a 25% tariff, the kinds of goods actually made in the factory that collapsed won't see any change. What's more, the legislation covering the GSP is set to expire in July anyway, and is unlikely to be renewed.

In this Saturday, May 4, 2013 file photo, pairs of brand new denim jeans are strewn over rubble from collapsed Rana Plaza garment factory building in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In this Saturday, May 4, 2013 file photo, pairs of brand new denim jeans are strewn over rubble from collapsed Rana Plaza garment factory building in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
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