The continuation of Bangladesh's duty-free benefits on exports to the US will depend on steps its government takes to improve labour standards and fire safety measures, a visiting US labour official says.

A public hearing on the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is scheduled for 28 March, with worker rights one of the key areas under review.

Eric Biel, acting associate deputy undersecretary of the Bureau of International Labour Affairs (ILAB), a unit of the US Department of Labour, is in Bangladesh on a fact-finding mission ahead of the hearing.  

He hinted that the GSP review by the US administration could go in favour of Bangladesh if its government delegation can show the measures taken to improve labour rights, particularly the implementation of trade union rights.

Pressure from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has led to a number of reviews of GSP benefits for Bangladesh since 2007.

Most textiles, apparel and footwear are not eligible for GSP duty-free treatment, with garment exports to the US under the GSP facility accounting for just 0.6% of Bangladesh's total exports.