EU reassures BD to help improve labour conditions

The European Union (EU) on Monday reassured Bangladesh of remaining engaged in improving the labour conditions in Bangladesh. “…again it’s a process. It’ll be a terrible disaster for Bangladesh if the EU suspends the GSP benefits for Bangladesh under Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. Millions of people will become jobless,” EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht said at a press conference in Geneva.
He said the EU is the biggest client of Bangladesh. “We’ve to do something. We need engagement for future.”
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni who was present at the press conference said, “Bangladesh doesn’t need any more disaster. Bangladesh has lot of natural disasters. Any trade restriction will be man-made disaster for Bangladesh. Bangladesh doesn’t deserve it.”
The press conference was followed by a high-level meeting on Bangladesh’s RMG sector, ‘Staying Engaged–A Sustainability Compact with Bangladesh’, held in Geneva, which focused on agreeing on labour rights, safety and health at work, and responsible business conduct.
EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht hosted the meeting that began at about 5:30 pm BST (13:30 Hrs Geneva time).
The two-hour meeting was attended by a high-level representation from the government of Bangladesh, led by Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, the ILO, and the US government.  There will also be representatives from the RMG exporters’ association, from some leading buyers, as well as from the trade unions.
Following the recent factory disasters in Bangladesh, EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht met Dipu Moni on May 28 to shape a response which would address the problems in the country, while avoiding hardship for its citizens.
Both sides agreed that the key to a lasting improvement lies in the engagement of all actors in the supply chain, and of international support for work at a multilateral level which can effect change in the most efficient and comprehensive manner.
The EU aims to uphold fundamental human rights, of which adhering to core labour standards is an intrinsic part and it will also act in full respect of its WTO commitment to avoid discrimination, according to a media note of the European Union.
The GSP provided by the EU benefits all products from Bangladesh under its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme and the EU wishes to remain engaged with Bangladesh so that it can preserve the preferential access to the EU market which has greatly helped socio-economic development over the years. –

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