Generalized is said to allow developing countries to pay

Generalized Scheme of Preference

 

 IntroductionEuropean Union is the world’s
largest market in terms of import and exports. It has trade agreements all over
the world, and EU presently claims to account for around 16% of world imports
and exports. In terms of its relations
with developing economies around the globe, the EU states that it is ‘the most
open market to developing countries in the world’. One of its strategies for
encouraging trade with developing economies is the Generalised Scheme of
Preferences (GSP). Being granted GSP or GSP+ status is said to allow developing
countries to pay fewer of no duties on export to EU. Giving them vital access
to EU market and contributing to their growth. Those
countries included in the scheme are required by the EU to put into practice
key United Nations human rights and International Labour Organisation
conventions relating to fair employment. The trade agreement thus aims to
influence the relationship of government of EU’s trading partner to the wider
business environment, and to go some way in defining the responsibility that government
owes to its citizens, as workers in the international economy. GSP/GSP+ has
three objectives:·     
Contribute to
poverty eradication by expanding exports from countries most in need·     
Promote
sustainable development and good governance·     
Ensure that EU’s
financial and economic interest are safeguarded      SRILANKASri
Lanka has been beneficiary of EU’s GSP since the scheme’s interception, and it
began to benefit from GSP+ status on 15 July 2005 After the tsunami. However on
15 august 2010 Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status was suspended by EU. The EU’s decision
to withdraw GSP+ benefit from Sri Lanka was based on the findings of a
commission investigation that identified limitations in the implementation of
three human rights convention:·      The international covenant on
civil and political rights (ICCPR)·      The convention against torture
(CAT)·      The convention on rights of the
child (CRC)Between 2005 and 2010, under GSP+ status, Sri
Lanka’s export to EU grew by 7.96%. contrastingly during 2010 to 2015 period,
Sri Lanka export to EU merely grow by 1.02%. the most direct impact was tariff being
reinstated on Sri Lankan exports to EU, making them uncompetitive compared to
similar exports from other developing countries like India and Bangladesh.On 19 May 2017, the EU granted
Sri Lanka better access to EU for its exports, it did so under the EU’s
Generalized Scheme of Preference Plus (GSP+). By granting this concession Sri
Lanka will benefit from the full removal of tariff on Sri Lanka’s exports to EU
on 66% of tariff lines (approximately 1200 Sri Lankan products) covering a wide
array of products including textiles, machinery and fisheries. Among all the products
exported from Sri Lanka most exported product is Tea with contributes to 12% of
the total country’s export at an export value of $1.24 billion. Europe market
consumes 61% of the total Sri Lankan tea exports. Despite all of this tea
workers in Sri Lanka are barely able to scrape by. Sub-human conditions
of livingLife for the workers on these plantations had
always been noted for its strict disciplinary and hierarchical structure, the
repetitive nature and physical strain of the actual tasks involved, and the
difficult and sub-human conditions of living. Among all that tea labourers are
exposed to chemicals due to extensive use of pesticides in tea gardens.The
housing for tea workers does not even meet the primary needs; they still live
in rows of workers and houses located in the middle of plantation, so basically
all the people working in tea gardens are living on remote areas with no access
to rest of the world. the houses they live in are more than a decade ago. Even
the basic facility for tea plantation workers are rear, there is no running
water, only the back-breaking slog of pulling up a bucket from a well. Child Labour Children
often work to help and support their families. Living on remote estates it is
often difficult for children to get to school if the estate does not provide
education. many children have little else to do than work. Much of the work
children do is considered as “helping out” their parents. As such, they are
officially not employed and commonly are not protected by local labour laws.
the extreme poverty faced by my tea workers means that the children’s income is
vital to support their families. These factors create conditions for child
labour. As more children enter the workforce, adult’s wages are driven down,
resulting in vicious circle of poverty.  Wages Sri Lanka’s tea estate workers began in April 2017
to vocally demand for an increase in their wages from 620 rupees ($4.14) a day
to 1000 rupees ($6.68) a day. the workers have long pushed for more money. The
estate sector trade union and plantation companies reached an agreement in
October through reconciliation from government agencies, for a minimum wage of
530 rupees ($3.53) per day and an incentive of 730 rupees ($4.87) a day based
upon 75% attendance during the month. Under this agreement workers who don’t
show up at least 75% of time in month will earn less than what they used to
earn before but the workers who picked more than then “estate/division norms”
earn an extra 25 rupees ($0.17) per kilogram for the extra tea leaves they
harvest, but many tea workers still oppose the agreement and continue to protest.
 Ethical Tea
PartnershipMany company now source their
tea from farms and estates that have been independently verified by a third
party to be free from labor exploitation. Fairtrade, Rainforest alliance and
UTZ certified are examples of such certification schemes. These schemes comply
with the standards set by the international labor organizations which include
provision on wages, safety standards and child labor. Other initiative have developed
to support the sustainable development of tea industry, such as Ethical Tea
Partnership.ETP partnership with care
international helped improve living working conditions on 13 Tea estate in Sri
Lanka through the implementation of community development forum (CDF’s). CDF’s are like mini parliament that
bring together worker management, trade union officials and community/state
residence to discuss working and living conditions on tea estates.        BangladeshAs a Least Developed Country (LDC),
Bangladesh benefits from the most favorable regime available under the EU’s Generalized
Scheme of Preference (GSP), Bangladeshi goods export are exempted from normal
custom duties as follow:·     
Standard Reductionso  3.5% below normal
custom duty for sensitive productso  zero duties for no sensitive
productso  20% reduction in
duties for textile products ·     
Zero Duty for up to 7200 different products, under GSP+ scheme as long as it meets certain
criteria for good governance and sustainable development.EU is Bangladesh’s main
trading partner accounting for around 12% of Bangladesh’s total trade. From 2011
to 2015 Bangladesh’s export to increase from €10.8 billion to €17.6 billion. Bangladesh main export industry is textiles and clothing (primary
Ready-Made Garments) which comprises of 90% of the country total export to EURMG sector workers in Bangladesh
have protested against their low wages several times now. Their First protest
broke out in year 2006 after that there has been regular protests by these
workers. Which led the government to increase the minimum wage level. Many factories
in Bangladesh frequently undermine when it comes to workers health and safety
due to pressure from ordering companies to make tight deadlines due to which
management often pushes their workers in order to ensure that the order is
fulfilled.The situation becomes even
more adverse when it comes to female workers. The female workers
are put at a risk to different occupational health hazards such as work environment hazards, physical hazards
and mental hazards. The
work environment hazards comprise of long working hours, absence of paid leaves,
congested and overcrowded working environment, absence of health facilities and
safety measures, absence of staff utility’s, lack of access to safe drinking
water. On the other hand,
there are certain physical hazards which include exposures to toxic agents, difficult
postures and repetitive motion. Exposure to verbal, psychological, sexual
harassment and violence at these factories are some of the usual mental health
hazards. These hazards do not only affect the workers’ mental and physical wellbeing
but also the standard of work and productivity of employees.Musculoskeletal
disorder is also a major trouble for the textile workers. These complaints are
related to highly monotonous movements, repetitive hand and arm movements,
awkward postures in seated positions, prolonged working hours without sufficient
breaks and awfully designed work stations. These risk factors result in unfavourable
health outcomes of the workers such as musculoskeletal complaints of hands,
back, neck, lower limbs and shoulders.    The Generalized Scheme of Preference
was suspended in June 2013 in response to the collapse of Rana Plaza factory
complex which killed several workers and reason for this collapse was defined
as poor working conditions in factories. In July 2013, the EU took an initiative
of launching a Sustainability Compact for Bangladesh, which will run until 2018
with the aim of improving labor rights and factory safety in the ready-made
garment industry. The initiative brings together EU, Government of Bangladesh,
USA, and Canada-i.e. main markets of Bangladeshi RMG industry – as well as
International Labor Organization (ILO). The compact is based on three long and short-term
commitments:·     
Respect for labor rights·     
Responsible business conduct·     
Structural integrity of buildings and occupational safety
and health. The contract has led to tangible improvement in workplace safety, and
working conditions in the industry. A number of labour rights are better
protected in Bangladesh today than they were when the Rana Plaza tragedy
happened, though respect of workers’
rights remaining a pressing issue in Bangladesh. Investments by European
company in Bangladesh has led to development of several sectors in economy and
has offered many advantages like:·     
Creating new jobs and helping local skill base·     
Helping improve working conditions by introducing
policies like corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct ·     
Bringing advance technologies, products, services and
business practices.·     
Raising the level of Bangladeshi products and helping them
compete in international market.·     
Diversifying Bangladesh’s economy, reducing its vulnerability
to shocks.  Prospect of garment sector in BangladeshApart of some problems, the
prospect to garment sector in Bangladesh is very promising. In 1980 there were
on bunch of factories employing few thousand people. currently there are around
4500 factories. The RMG sector contributes around 90% of total export earnings.
   Conclusion

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The conditions of workers both
in Sri Lanka’s tea sector and Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector have been worse
over past few decades. In the respective sectors of both the countries child laborers
is hugely employed and laborers of both the economies are under paid. There has
been a lot done to eradicate poor working conditions of laborers in Sri Lanka
and Bangladesh over past few years, but it is not enough.  For Sri Lanka’s tea sector, there are lot of
steps that have been taken in order to eradicate poverty and improve working
conditions of the tea laborers in the form Ethical Tea Partnership, Fairtrade,
Rainforest alliance and UTZ certified but it is still not enough as till date
tea laborers earn less than $10 a day while living on remote tea farms with no
access to proper sanitation facilities, cut out with rest of the world. And neither
the children on these farms have access proper education system. For Bangladesh
ready-made garment sector EU has launched a sustainability compact with the aim
to improve labor rights and factory safety in this industry but there is still
child employment practiced in RMG sector. RMG sector employ large number of
women laborers which are expose to verbal, psychological, sexual
harassment and violence in these factories. Above all the rich and poor gap in
the country has increased over years from 0.458 in 2010 to 0.483 in 2016
meaning that richer become richer and poor poorer during the period.

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