A technical mission of the European Union is coming to visit Bangladesh next month for the third time to review the labour and human rights situation to continue generalised scheme of preferences under Everything but Arms regime.
European Commission’s trade director Ewa Synowiec in a letter signed on January 31 informed the government of Bangladesh about the visit of the technical mission.
Earlier, the technical mission EBA Enhanced Engagement Mission visited Bangladesh twice in September 2018 and October 2019 to assess the eligibility of the country to continue GSP.
In the latest letter the EU said, ‘ We need to continue our engagement to ensure human right and labour rights reforms are sustained and that Bangladesh aligns fully with the standards and laws stemming from Bangladesh’s adherence to the United Nations Conventions applicable under the EBA arrangement of the EU’s generalised scheme of preferences.’
According to the high officials of the government, the EU delegation wanted to visit Bangladesh in the second week of March and stressed the need to multiply efforts to work out concrete actions and timelines to finalise a credible action plan by the end of March this year.
The EU, in October last year, suggested a number of actions on labour rights and sought a time bound action plan to address the right issues.
The government submitted an action plan on the suggested issue to the EU on January 2 seeking six months to six years to address the EU’s concerns.
In the action plan, Bangladesh made commitment to amend further the Bangladesh Labour Act by the end of 2022 but the EU in its recent letter wanted shorter timelines to amend the labour act and to include the necessary amendments to the Export Processing Zones Labour Act.
It also said that Bangladesh’s response to the call of the EU did not include the requested timeline towards the adaption of the National Action Plan for the implementation of the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review.
‘We recall the urgent need for Bangladesh to present such an action plan without further delay,’ the letter said.
The EU first communicated its concerns on non-compliance with labour rights under the EBA arrangement to the Bangladesh authorities in March 2017 and since then, the EU repeatedly warned Bangladesh about its readiness to launch the procedure for withdrawal of GSP.
In a recent report published on February 12, the EU said that Bangladesh made progress in certain areas but it was not enough and there was need for further efforts to fully align Bangladesh labour laws and practices with ILO standards.
It also said that the EU would decide the next step of action in line with the recommendation of the International Labour Organisation report on Bangladesh to be published this March.
‘For Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Commission will review the situation and decide on the next steps. If dialogue fails to produce sufficient results, the EU remains ready, as a last resort, to launch the procedure for withdrawal of preferences with due consideration for the economic and social impact of such a withdrawal,’ the report read.
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