European Parliament delegation due today
A four-member European Parliament (EP) delegation arrives in Dhaka today to talk with high government and political leadership and leaders of garment industries and stakeholders on trade relations between Bangladesh and EU and GSP facilities.
Diplomatic sources said the team led by Linda McAvan is due to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker of Jatiya Sangshad Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, State Minister for Labour and Manpower Mujibul Haque Chunnu and other high officials.
Other members of the delegation are Arne Lietz, Norbert Neuser and Agnes Jongerius.
They will also call on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and speak to the media prior to departing Dhaka on March 29.
Sources said the EP delegation during talks with the government and industry leaders is expected to urge bringing of other export-oriented sectors of the country under compliance and to ensure workplace safety and labour rights to avoid repetition of workplace accidents.
The delegation will also be checking out the state of political rights, freedom of expression, labour rights and overall human rights situation in Bangladesh.
During their meetings, the delegation will emphasise on the trade regime after the middle-income country status comes into effect when Bangladesh will not enjoy duty and quota free market access to the EU anymore.
Bangladesh has targeted 2021 to become a middle-income country.
Bangladesh as an LDC currently enjoys duty-free market access to European countries for all of its exports. But once it moves out of the LDC status, Bangladesh will enter value-added trade relations known as GSP-plus.
This would require Bangladesh to sign at least 27 core EU conventions, including democratic development, labour standards and environment standards.
Diplomatic sources said the preparations for the GSP-plus era should begin now as there is very little time left to make these changes.
Trade relations between Bangladesh and EU is important as 60 per cent of Bangladesh's exports are destined to the EU.