The EU yesterday suggested the government strengthen the capability of the local inspection and monitoring agency so that it can take over the works of the Accord after its departure.
“That should ultimately be the goal,” said Rensje Teerink, the EU ambassador to Bangladesh.
It was never the intent of the Accord and the Alliance to stay on in Bangladesh permanently, she told journalists after a meeting with Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi at his secretariat office in Dhaka.
“Does the Remediation Coordination Cell have enough capacity is what remains to be seen,” she said, adding that the International Labour Organization (ILO) has a major role to play in strengthening the RCC.
The government with the assistance from the ILO formed the RCC in May 2016 to take over the activities of the Accord and the Alliance, the two foreign inspection agencies.
The Alliance, the platform of 28 North American retailers formed in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse in May 2013 to fix the structural, fire and electrical loopholes in factories, left Bangladesh after the completion of its five-year tenure. The Accord, the European retailers' platform, is fighting in the court to extend its tenure as it thinks more needs to be done.
“The final thing is that we have to make our factories compliant,” Munshi said while speaking about the departure of the Accord.
Meanwhile, the EU is also reviewing its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme, under which the least-developed countries, including Bangladesh, currently enjoy zero-duty benefit, Teerink said.
“Many changes may come in the GSP following the review.”
In the next EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue in Dhaka in March the future challenges in bilateral trade and investment will be discussed.
“I am hopeful that we can overcome many challenges in the upcoming business climate dialogue -- the EU is such an important trade partner of Bangladesh,” Teerink said.
Last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported goods worth more than $21 billion to the EU and the EU nations' export to Bang-ladesh was worth $3 billion, according to the ambassador.
She also suggested the government update the labour law and the export processing zone law to the standards of the ILO.