Bangladesh government has recently sought intervention of the European Parliament into cancellation of import orders of readymade garment products by European buyers and brands in order to save livelihoods of four million garment workers of Bangladesh amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Commerce secretary Md Jafar Uddin in a letter on May 13 to Bernd Lange, chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, said that the European brands and retailers were cancelling orders of products which had already been manufactured.
‘Such unbearable and uncompassionate action by some European apparel businesses does not go with the idea of ethical and value-based trade as propagated by the EU,’ the commerce secretary said in his letter.
He urged Lange to take the initiative to save the lives and livelihoods of the RMG workers, saying that the four million workers employed in the apparel sector were the most vulnerable in the supply chain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The EU is the largest destination for Bangladeshi RMG products as more than 60 per cent of the country’s total export earnings from apparel come from the region.
According to the statistics given by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, global buyers cancelled or suspended orders worth $3.18 billion as of Saturday due to the pandemic.
Jafar expressed the government’s eagerness in discussing the future of trade relations between Bangladesh and the EU with the INTA to ensure a win-win situation for both parties in the long run.
The commerce secretary also said that Bangladesh was at a juncture where the country was not only facing the scourge of COVID 19 but also preparing to graduate from the least developed country status in 2024.
‘In the short term, as the EU starts formulating their next GSP regulation for developing countries, we expect graduating countries like Bangladesh will be given a soft cushion — a transitional preferential trade package — so that the hard-earned development does not get wrecked with the sudden loss of all trade benefits,’ the letter read.
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