News / Asia

European, US Retailers Split on Bangladesh Reform Plan

People walk past a Gap store at the Derby Street Shoppes complex in Hingham, Massachusetts, February 21, 2012
People walk past a Gap store at the Derby Street Shoppes complex in Hingham, Massachusetts, February 21, 2012
Reuters
Major U.S. retailers, including Gap Inc., declined to endorse an accord on Bangladesh building and fire safety backed by Europe's two biggest fashion chains, a trans-Atlantic divide that may dilute garment industry reform efforts.

A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.
x
A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.
A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.
Three weeks after the collapse of a building housing garment factories, which killed more than 1,100 people, Western brands that rely on Bangladesh to produce clothing cheaply disagreed over how best to ensure worker safety.

Gap said it was ready to sign on "today'' to an agreement already endorsed by European companies, including Italian clothing retailer Benetton, Britain's Marks & Spencer, Sweden's H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Spain's Inditex SA, but first wanted a change in the way disputes are resolved in the courts.

“With this single change, this global, historic agreement can move forward with a group of all retailers, not just those based in Europe,'' Eva Sage-Gavin, an executive in Gap's global human resources and corporate affairs department, said in a statement.

A series of deadly incidents at factories, including a fire in November that killed 112 people, has focused global attention on safety standards in Bangladesh's booming garment industry, the world's biggest exporter of clothing after China.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, called on Bangladesh to shut one factory and examine another after its own inspections found safety problems.

Major brands and retailers set a May 15 deadline to join the agreement after talks in Germany last month. As of Tuesday morning, the only U.S. company to announce it had signed on was PVH, which owns brands including Calvin Klein.

Europe accounts for about 60 percent of Bangladesh's clothing exports, so even without participation from the big U.S. retailers, the agreement may bring some change in a country that has seen at least three deadly garment factory disasters in the span of six months.

Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the deal was a bit of good news in the “worst time for us.”

“We believe this decision will motivate other big buyers across the West and the USA to join their hands with us,'' he told Reuters.

Li & Fung Ltd, which supplies dozens of major retailers, including Walmart, said it was "continuing to look at'' the European pact, but declined to give details. Bangladesh is second only to China in Li & Fung's global supply chain.

“We don't think the answer is to move away from Bangladesh,” Bruce Rockowitz, Li & Fung's group president and chief executive, told reporters after a shareholder meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

“The answer is actually to invest more and try to make safety better and work with the government on doing a better job on monitoring buildings,” he added.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More