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Free, Fair elections can open door to GSP plus benefits to Bangladesh: European Union

Holding of free and fair elections in Bangladesh can open the doors for availing of GSP plus benefits of zero tariff on a large number of export items to European markets under the GSP plus facility, says the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whitley.

Participating in a discussion on a local TV channel, EU Ambassador Whitley said that the conduct of free and fair elections in Bangladesh will send out a positive signal to provide the GSP plus facility to exports from Bangladesh as a certain level of political freedom, civil and political rights are among the requirements to grant GSP plus benefits to a country.

The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus of the European Union allows for cutting import duties to zero on more than two-thirds of the tariff line of exports from developing countries.

However, these countries must implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environment and good governance among others.

Ambassador Whiteley said that the pre-election EU observer team is arriving in Bangladesh on 8th July. They will hold discussions with stakeholders including representatives from govt, political parties, members of civil society and media during their several weeks of stay in the country.

They will seek to understand the overall atmosphere of the forthcoming elections including the election apparatus, surrounding conditions of the election like media, civil society engagement, voter awareness which is part of the election observation process of the EU.

Calling the new US Visa policy for Bangladesh a significant announcement, Ambassador Whitely however said the EU policy mix on the issue is different.

The EU is focusing on its election observation mission, engaging with the political parties, said Whitely. He said choice is the key thing in elections which is ensured by debate and discussion before the elections to help voters make an informed choice.
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