Apparel industry leaders in Bangladesh say they are optimistic the US will restore Bangladesh's trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme.

The comments follow a meeting last week between Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal.

"We're hopeful of getting good news about the GSP," said Islam. He said Biswal had also welcomed the proposed minimum wage rise for ready-made garment factory workers.

The BGMEA president said the group is also seeking duty-free access of Bangladeshi ready-made garments to the US market.

The GSP scheme offered duty-free access to the US for around 5,000 different products exported from Bangladesh - but not include its main export item, ready-made garments, which are subject to import duties ranging between 15% and 32%.

The benefits were withdrawn in June over US concerns about the country's serious shortcomings in worker rights and workplace safety standards.

The decision was largely influenced by the Tazreen Fashion factory fire that killed 114 people in November last year, and the Rana Plaza building collapse in April, where more than 1,100 garment workers lost their lives.