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Bangladesh must do more for GSP: US

17 January,2015

RTNN News Desk: Despite making progress on workers safety and rights, Bangladesh needs to do more before reinstatement of trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) can be considered, the US has said.

US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman said this in a statement released on Friday, reports Indian state-run news agency PTI.

"There is more work to do, building on the collaboration between the government of Bangladesh, private sector stakeholders, and the International Labour Organisation, to address the concerns about factory safety in the apparel sector," Froman said.

The USTR-led review found that there has been progress in some important areas, particularly with respect to fire and building safety issues.

Under the general supervision of the Bangladesh government, over 2,000 initial safety inspections of factories have been completed in the RMG sector over the last year, most by teams organised by private sector initiatives led by North American and European brands and retailers.

These inspections resulted in the closure of at least 31 factories, the partial closure of 17 additional factories, and the identification of needed remedial measures in hundreds more.

"We urge the government to complete remaining factory inspections as soon as possible to prevent recurrence of workplace tragedies such as those that occurred in 2012 and 2013," Froman said.

The review also found that further progress is needed in several key areas under the Action Plan. In particular, urgent progress is needed to fairly and systematically address reports of unfair labour practices and to advance and implement needed legal reforms, it said.

USTR said the US government is concerned about continuing reports of harassment and violence against union activists seeking to establish new unions or to exercise their legal rights.

"We also urge the government to accelerate its efforts to ensure workers' rights and to take measures to address continuing reports of harassment of and violence against labour activists who are attempting to exercise their rights," Froman said.

The government is responsible for the inspection of several hundred more factories and has hired additional inspection teams to carry out and sustain the inspection effort, said the USTR statement.

The US President Barack Obama had suspended Bangladesh from GSP in June 2013 based on its failure to meet statutory eligibility requirements related to worker rights. Following which, the US launched an interagency review, led by the USTR.


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