Since achieving independence in 1971, Bangladesh has been a strong friend and ally of the United States. Once defined by humanitarian help and development support, the relationship between the United States and Bangladesh is now firmly based on bilateral trade and investment. Today, Bangladeshi products find their way into virtually every American household. Despite this, Bangladesh still lacks unfettered duty-free access to U.S. markets and Bangladeshi workers are paying the price. In fact, U.S.-Bangladeshi trade is more restrictive than ever before. Until 2013, Bangladesh, like many of its neighbors in the region, including Pakistan, enjoyed trade privileges under a preferential U.S. trade program. But even then only 1 percent of Bangladesh’s exports to the U.S. enjoyed duty-free status. Today, even fewer goods can enter the United States without heavy duties, which ultimately cuts directly into the wages of the very workers the U.S. says it wants to protect. Congress should expand duty-free access to all Bangladeshi imports to the United States. The U.S. withdrew trade privileges in 2013 following a deadly garment factory disaster in Dhaka. At the time, President Obama said his goal was to “afford internationally recognized workers’ rights to workers in the country,” and he got the attention of Bangladesh’s political leadership. In the years since, Bangladesh has demonstrated its commitment to continued improvements in worker health and safety. Workers in Bangladesh enjoy internationally recognized workers’ rights. Among other reforms, Bangladesh has restructured its labor laws to guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining and to ensure occupational safety and health. As a result, there are now more than 350 trade unions in Bangladesh. In addition, more than 3,000 factories have been inspected for structural, electrical and fire safety. Bangladesh has hired 200 additional factory inspectors and implemented a rigorous training program for the industrial police. Coupled with the creation of a public database as a platform for reporting safety violations in the garment sector, these reforms have drastically reshaped workers’ rights in Bangladesh. Denying duty-free access to Bangladesh also impairs Bangladesh’s ability to help the U.S. fight terror. The poor in Bangladesh and elsewhere are frequently targeted by terrorist recruiters. If Bangladeshis have more economic options, in part created by better trade with the U.S., they will be tougher prey for terrorists. Despite this, the United States has refused to restore or expand Bangladesh’s trade privileges. Restrictions on trade are counterproductive and have a disproportionate impact on Bangladesh’s poor. The garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the country’s exports to the U.S., bears the heaviest burden. As one of the nation’s largest employers of women, the industry provides a path out of poverty toward economic stability and even independence. Better jobs and wages lead to increased literacy and education, improved health and increased life span. Also increased political power. In penalizing Bangladesh, the U.S. is undermining its own goals to bring modernization, workers’ rights and female empowerment to Bangladesh. The United States extends trade preferences to 122 other developing countries, but not Bangladesh. The U.S. is the only developed nation that does not allow duty-free/quota-free access to Bangladeshi products. In fact, many developing nations, including China and India, have already granted duty-free access to Bangladeshi products. In addition, by extending duty-free access to African least-developed countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the United States is discriminating against Bangladesh and other South Asia nations that enjoy no such preference. The 2013 World Trade Organization Ministerial in Bali urged developed countries that do not yet allow duty-free access to 97 percent of exports from least-developed countries — such as the U.S. — to do so. If the Obama administration’s goal is to bring continued improvement to Bangladesh’s garment industry, then the president should support, not punish, the Bangladeshi people and focus on measures that will fuel socioeconomic development, not cripple it. International trade helped boost Bangladesh’s per capita GDP, reduce infant mortality and cut poverty. Measures that enhance and expand trade with Bangladesh are far more likely to bring additional positive change to its citizens than are restrictive trade policies. As a friend and ally, the United States should recognize Bangladesh’s success and support the nation’s ongoing efforts by restoring trade privileges and granting duty-free access to all exports.