News / Economy

    Bangladesh Tells EU it Will Boost Worker Rights, Inspections

    ILO Director-General Guy Ryder (L), EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni attend a meeting in Geneva with employee, industry and employer representatives focused on agreeing on ways to improve trade and sustainable development in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh, July 8, 2013.
    ILO Director-General Guy Ryder (L), EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni attend a meeting in Geneva with employee, industry and employer representatives focused on agreeing on ways to improve trade and sustainable development in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh, July 8, 2013.
    Reuters
    Bangladesh pledged on Monday to quickly boost worker rights and recruit more factory inspectors as it seeks to preserve European Union trade benefits after 1,129 workers were killed in the collapse of a garment plant in April.

    The EU, which gives preferential access to Bangladeshi garments, has threatened punitive measures to press Dhaka to improve worker safety standards after the collapse of the illegally built Rana Plaza factory.

    Instead, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht launched a “sustainability compact” at a meeting with Bangladesh officials, who committed to enacting a new labor law by the end of 2013 and increasing the factory inspectorate by 200 staff to 800.

    “We have a carrot and a stick but I prefer to use the carrot,” he said. “We want to help the Bangladeshi people, not to punish them.”

    The EU said it would reallocate funds to help rehabilitate those permanently disabled in the Rana Plaza collapse and extend technical assistance to improve labor standards in Bangladesh and other impoverished countries in the region.

    Tax concessions offered by Western countries and the low wages paid by the manufacturers have helped to turn Bangladesh's garment exports into a $19 billion annual industry, with 60 percent of the clothes going to Europe.

    In late June, U.S. President Barack Obama cut off U.S. trade benefits for Bangladesh in a mostly symbolic response to conditions in the country's garment sector, given that clothing is not eligible for U.S. duty cuts.

    De Gucht said the United States was considering whether to join the compact announced on Monday.

    Meanwhile, a group of North American-based apparel retailers and trade associations plans to announce its own Bangladesh garment worker safety plan in Washington on Wednesday. Details of that plan were not immediately available, but the group said it includes “comprehensive and measurable actions.”

    Earlier on Monday, a group of mainly European retailers announced they had finalized a plan to promote worker safety through coordinated inspections. But many U.S. retailers have shunned the deal, proposing instead a non-binding initiative.

    Stay Engaged

    The EU imported roughly 9.2 billion euros ($11.8 billion) of goods from Bangladesh last year, with textiles from clothing to towels and bedding accounting for almost 93 percent, corresponding to some 2.5 million jobs, mostly held by women.

    Bangladesh receives duty-free access to EU markets under a program known as the globalized scheme of preferences (GSP), designed to help developing countries grow through trade. The country has the most generous level of GSP.

    De Gucht said Bangladesh should not take that for granted and the EU could still consider action if there was “insufficient progress for Bangladeshi workers.”

    Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said parliament would reconvene soon to adopt a new labor law. The bill will make it easier to form trade unions. Workers can now form a union only with permission of the factory owner.

    “We realize in the wake of the recent tragedies our friends ... expect us to deliver fast. Please do bear with us and stay engaged in Bangladesh,” Moni said.

    But the minister also hit out at brands which she said continued to raise retail prices while squeezing suppliers.

    “Some leading buyers are still quietly pressing for lower prices,” she said. “How do we ensure fair pricing? The demand side must also come forward on delivering their part.”

    In the compact, the EU and Bangladesh welcomed the European-led plan, while urging all retailers and brands adopt a unified code of conduct to audit factories.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8954
    JPY
    USD
    109.74
    GBP
    USD
    0.6851
    CAD
    USD
    1.3148
    INR
    USD
    67.673

    Rates may not be current.