Exports to US to grow despite attack: Bernicat
Echoing with some of her Western peers, US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat yesterday assured that exports from Bangladesh to the American market will continue to grow despite the recent terrorist attack on foreigners in Dhaka.
“We are telling people to exercise caution and be aware of the situation and we are encouraging people to do business here,” Bernicat said.
She was speaking at a meeting organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at its office in Dhaka.
The US has been a partner of Bangladesh and remains so in the fight against terrorism, Bernicat said, adding that her country is committed to maintaining a robust relationship with the businesspeople of Bangladesh.
Having a strong business tie is a very important part of the bilateral relationship between the two countries, she said.
“Because, we know that the more we partner with you, the more progress you can make and the more this country becomes stable and resistant to terrorism,” she said.
The US remained Bangladesh's single largest export destination for garments last year, she said. Exports to the US from Bangladesh increased 7.55 percent year-on-year to more than $6.2 billion last year.
“We are proud of that and we hope to remain that top customer,” she said.
Regarding workplace safety, Bernicat said the efforts must go on. She also assured manufacturers of easy funds for factory remediation as many development agencies and partners are ready to come up with this kind of fund. “We want to ensure that every factory owner is committed to improving safety standards of their units,” she said. All workers in the garment industry should come under trade unionism, she added.
Bernicat lauded the government's initiatives against terrorism and said the government is collaborating with international partners against their fight against terrorism.
When asked if the US was satisfied with the government's security measures, she said: “The government has taken many actions. We will be satisfied when all the ringleaders will be caught. It will take long time to be satisfied.”
There has been a travel alert since July 1 on the US citizens living in Bangladesh. “We said to the citizens, you need to exercise caution, you need to be careful when you are in Bangladesh.” BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman said a committee has already been formed headed by Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, senior secretary to the commerce ministry, for finding ways on how to get low-cost funds for the remediation of factories.
“We want loans at 4-5 percent interest but banks offer loans at 9-10 percent. This is expensive,” he said.
Rahman said 63 percent remediation works have been completed in the factories affiliated with Accord, while for Alliance factories, this ratio is 57 percent. A worker database will be ready within October this year, he said.