The visiting delegation of the trade committee of European Parliament at a meeting on Tuesday urged Bangladesh to bring other export-oriented sectors of the country under compliance for ensuring workplace safety and labour rights to avoid repetition of workplace accidents.
The delegation, however, emphasized the trade regime after the post middle-income country status, when Bangladesh will not enjoy duty- and quota-free market access to the EU.
Quoting the delegation, Md Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said they want the workplace safety and labour rights to be ensured in all export-oriented sectors like the readymade garment in Bangladesh so that no workers face accidents.
He was speaking at a joint press briefing after the meeting with the 16-member European Parliament delegation headed by Bernd Lange held at the Westin Hotel in the city.
At the briefing, Lange said it was clear that Bangladesh is on the path of coming from the LDC to middle-income country.
Once Bangladesh is graduated to mid-income country, the trade relation of Bangladesh with the EU would be changed, he said, adding the country has to meet some criteria including labour rights and environmental issues to avail the GSP-plus benefit.
The GSP-plus is linked with some requirements of 27 international norms on labour rights and environmental issues, he added.
Currently, Bangladesh enjoys duty-free and quota-free market access to the region for all products except arms and ammunitions under Everything But Arms arrangement.
According to the EU GSP scheme, GSP-Plus benefit is given to developing countries to encourage those to comply with core international standards in the areas of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance.
Under the GSP-Plus scheme, EU offers complete duty suspension on about 66 per cent of EU tariff lines to developing countries and in return the countries must commit to ratifying and effectively implementing core international conventions on above mentioned issues.
The EU parliament as the representative of 500 million people is responsible for any trade agreement, he said, adding that trade relation between Bangladesh and EU is important as 60 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports are destined to the EU.
Terming the delegation a fact finding mission, Lange said they are here to oversee the situation, especially the development related to workplace safety and labour rights in the garment sector after the Rana Plaza building collapse.
The apparel makers demanded a unified code of conduct to save time and money saying it was nothing but wastage of time and money as different buyers have different codes for social compliance.
The meeting also discussed how the ongoing safety initiatives would continue after 2018 when the tenure of Accord and Alliance would expire.
The BGMEA leaders informed the delegation about the measures including the fund for workers taken for the wellbeing of workers in the RMG sector.
The proposed remediation coordination cell would look after the post-2018 safety activities led by Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments where International Labour Organisation and other concerned stakeholders would be involved.
The EU head of delegation in Dhaka, Pierre Mayaudon, BGMEA senior vice-president Faruque Hassan and vice-presidents Mahmud Hasan Khan and Mohammed Nasir, among others, were present at the briefing.
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