The Netherlands has assured that Dutch buyers will not cancel or suspend their orders from the readymade garment factories in Bangladesh.
Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag conveyed the message to Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and mentioned that the Dutch government would ensure that the RMG value chain would not be disrupted.
Kaag called Momen yesterday to talk about the impact of coronavirus and a way forward.
During the telephone meeting that lasted almost an hour, Momen raised the issue of cancellation of orders by several European brands and buyers, and pointed out that orders worth $3.18 billion have already been cancelled or suspended by international buyers -- affecting 1,150 factories and 2.28 million workers.
He urged the Netherlands to ensure that buyers and brands from the country do not cancel their orders with apparel factories in Bangladesh.
Kaag informed that the Dutch government has set up a fund of 100 million euros to help countries that need support because of the pandemic.
She informed that countries that are interested to use the fund would need to request for an allocation.
On the Rohingya crisis, Momen explained to Kaag that around 500 Rohingyas who are on two boats are not in or even near the Bangladesh maritime border.
He pointed out that according to the law of the seas, other countries in the region have responsibilities to save the Rohingyas.
The Dutch minister agreed that if Bangladesh continues to rescue boat loads of Rohingyas again and again then it may work as a decoy for Myanmar and encourage them to push more Rohingya to the deep sea.
Momen thanked the Dutch government for supporting the cause of the Rohingyas, and for supporting them during the trial at the International Court of Justice.
Kaag assured Dr Momen that her country would continue to strongly support the Rohingyas in their journey for justice and accountability.
Momenalso thanked Kaag for their support on developing the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, and sought continued support, which was assured by the Dutch minister.
On the issue of FDI, Momen mentioned that FDI would be negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and requested for Dutch technical assistance in FDI in the areas of agriculture and fisheries.
Kaag responded positively to the request, and mentioned that the Netherlands would be ready to support Bangladesh in this regard.
The ministers also talked about support in the area of addressing the challenge of river erosion in Bangladesh.
Momen also raised the issue of impact of Covid-19 in the Middle East, where 11.2 million Bangladeshi expatriate workers have lost their jobs.
He also pointed out the importance that their remittance plays in the economy of Bangladesh.
Momen informed the Dutch Minister that Bangladesh had approached the governments of the Middle East with two specific requests -- to ensure that the Bangladeshis, including those who have lost their jobs, do not starve; and to ensure 6 months' salaries for the Bangladeshi workers who had been terminated.
Momen requested support of Dutch government in convincing the Middle Eastern governments on these two issues.
Kaag replied that she would speak to Dutch ambassadors in that region.