Bangladesh will fulfil three conditions of the US action plan in priority basis by March 30 in an effort to regain the GSP status to the US market, said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today.
He added that the prioritised three conditions include recruitment of the 200 factory inspectors, upgrading the labour laws for the factories inside the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and preparing a database on factory fire incidents and structural designs of factory buildings.
Ahmed’s talked with the journalists after a review meeting of the progresses of action plan, a roadmap for regaining GSP to the US market, with three secretaries and five chiefs of foreign missions in Bangladesh, at the secretariat in Dhaka.
Meanwhile US Ambassador in Bangladesh Dan W Mozena after the meeting with, said the country will need to resolve some challenges in the action plan for regaining the GSP to the US market as the government has been continuing the reform programmes for the same purposes.
“I am very impressed with the progresses that made Bangladesh, but there are some challenges should be addressed. The national labour laws should be extended to the factories inside the EPZs,” Mozena said.
Regarding EPZ laws, Tofail Ahmed said currently there is a Workers’ Welfare Association (WWA) in the factories inside these specialised export zones. “We will try to upgrade this kind of associations for improving the workers’ rights in the EPZ factories,” he said.
He said the government will also appoint 200 additional factory inspectors by the end of March 30, as the process is underway.
The minister also said Bangladesh made significant progresses in different areas under the roadmap where 16 conditions were given by the US government as action plan after suspension of the trade privilege June 27 last year.
“We are making progresses according to the terms and conditions of the action plans and Sustainability Compact” Ahmed said.
The implementation of conditions of both US action plan and Sustainability Compact will transform the country’s garment sector to good and positive vibe according to Dan Mozena.
He said, “The progress will continue to develop,”
Bangladesh signed the Sustainability Compact with the EU involving International Labour Organisation (ILO) to improve the safety conditions and workers’ rights in Geneva July 8 last year.
Ahmed said the commerce ministry has already resolved the problems of trade unions in 19 garment factories as a few months ago the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) complained violation of trade union rules by 19 garment factories.
Bangladesh’s export to the US registered 17 percent higher to $4.3billion in 2012-13 fiscal even in absence of the GSP facility, he said. He said Bangladesh will be able to send the progress reports to the US by April 15.
EU Ambassador William Hanna, The Netherlands Ambassador Gerben De Jong, Canadian High Commissioner Heather Cruden and Spanish Ambassador Luis Tejada among others attended the meeting.