The government will speed up its efforts to fulfil three of the 16 US conditions within this month in a bid to regain the GSP status in the North American market, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday.
The country has made substantial progresses in meeting the rest 13 conditions.
The government has already prioritised the three conditions that are recruitment of 200 additional factory inspectors, upgrading labour laws for the factories inside export processing zones, and preparing a database on fire incidents in factories.
On EPZ laws, the minister said all the factories inside such specialised zones already have their workers' welfare associations. “We will try to upgrade these associations,” he said.
He also said a process is underway to appoint the factory inspectors within this month.
Ahmed was talking to reporters after a review meeting on the progresses Bangladesh has made in fulfulling the US conditions. Government officials and chiefs of foreign missions were present at the meeting at the secretariat in Dhaka.
The US advised Bangladesh to fulfil the conditions in an action plan in June last year to help the country regain the trade privilege. Bangladesh also signed a Sustainability Compact with the EU involving International Labour Organisation in Geneva on July 8 last year to improve safety standards in factories.
Progresses under the initiatives may help Bangladesh regain trade privileges from the US that suspended the generalised system of preferences status on June 27 last year.
Ahmed said the commerce ministry has already resolved the problems of trade unions in 19 garment factories following complaints from the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO).
Bangladesh will be able to send a report to the US by April 15 on the progresses it has made in improving labour standards and factory safety, he said.
After the meeting, US Ambassador Dan W Mozena said: “I am very impressed with the progresses. But there are some challenges that should be addressed."
The labour laws should cover the factories inside the EPZs, he said.
EU Ambassador William Hanna, the Netherlands Ambassador Gerben De Jong, Canadian High Commissioner Heather Cruden and Spanish Ambassador Luis Tejada were also present at the meeting.