Ambassador and head of delegation of the European Union in Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon on Monday said that social compliance, good governance and technological breakthrough were the three main challenges to establish a full-fledged economic relationship between the country and European bloc.
‘Clearly, there is a need for Bangladesh and for the EU to revisit their economic relations and need for constructive discussion on the challenges to take the relationship to the next level,’ he said at the quarterly luncheon meeting of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Dhaka.
The relationship is not yet a full-fledged economic relationship, rather it is a supplier-client relation, he said.
Mayaudon also said that the EU and businesspeople from the region would also scrutinise political, security and discussion of the government with religious organisations like Hefazat-e-Islam in the run up to the next national elections.
For investors, political and security scenario of the country is of the highest importance, he said.
‘So, no doubt, we will scrutinise with highest degree of attention what is going to happen in terms of social developments in the country that include religious dimension in the run up to next national elections,’ he said.
A different scenario for the next elections than what happened in 2013-2014 is a collective expectation, he added.
Emphasising on improvement of labour rights issues, he said that the issues of compliance of United Nations core labour conventions are highly important for attracting foreign direct investment from EU.
‘The compliance issues are not negotiable and no EU investors will come to invest in Bangladesh particularly in special economic zones and export processing zones until and unless the legal environment is totally aligned with international standards,’ he said.
He said that as there would be no duty-free and quota-free market access under the GSP EVA scheme once the country would achieve the middle income country (MIC) status by 2021, both the sides had already started discussing about GSP Plus scheme which is almost as favourable as the GSP EVA.
For the GSP Plus, a country will have to implement 27 core conventions of United Nations on human rights, labour rights, governance and environment, he said.
Though after Rana Plaza collapse, significant progress has been made on work safety, labour rights are still in question, he said, adding that the country’s labour act and draft Export Processing Zone law are still not fully compliant with the UN conventions.
Harassment of labour leaders and difficulties of establishing trade union are also issues for improvement, he said.
The issue of child marriage under the new law may also raise question in West as level of global social compliance in the country, he said.
The economic governance should be more business and investment friendly, he said, adding that EU investors are still facing problems in regulatory framework.
At the meeting, MCCI president Nihad Kabir sought EU support to overcome the challenges related to compliance with international standards over safety issues and transfer of technology in this regard.
She also said that buyers should be supportive in the pricing of the products of Bangladesh.
MCCI vice-president Golam Mainuddin, former president Laila Rahman Kabir, former vice-president Kamran T Rahman, chief executive officer of the HSBC, also a member of the MCCI, Francois de Maricourt and other members of the chamber attended the meeting.
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