A European Union delegation will visit Bangladesh in July to review progresses in efforts to improve labour rights and standards of workplace safety, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said yesterday.
“We are expecting the arrival of EU trade commissioner, but when the team will arrive here is yet to be fixed,” Ahmed said.
Bangladesh signed the Sustainability Compact with the European Union involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva on July 8 last year.
Under the agreement, the EU will observe the progresses of three important components in the garment sector, including improvement of labour rights, structural integrity of the buildings and occupational safety and health.
In most cases, the EU will consider the US-provided roadmap for reviving the GSP (generalised system of preferences) as the base for measuring the progresses in workplace safety and labour rights.
After the Rana Plaza collapse in April last year, the US suspended the GSP on June 27 and the United States Trade Representative gave a set of 16 conditions to be fulfilled to regain trade privileges.
In a lecture in Berlin last month, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht lauded Bangladesh's initiatives to ensure workplace safety.
“I have initiated together with the ILO a compact with Bangladesh after the tragic industrial accidents in its textile sector -- most prominently the Rana Plaza incident last year,” Gucht said.
“The compact lists clear commitments on the part of Bangladesh to reform its labour law and to improve working conditions. And it works: the Bangladeshi government has not only revised domestic law, but also employed an impressive number of additional work safety inspectors.”
The compact also enlists companies in this effort, he said.
To fulfil one of the 16 conditions, an accord on fire and building safety was signed last year and dozens of leading international companies are now implementing it.
Bangladesh has been enjoying zero-duty benefits on exports of all products to the EU under the trade bloc's “Everything but Arms” scheme since 1971.
The EU is the largest trade bloc for Bangladesh as 59 percent of its products are destined for the bloc.