EU delegation here to talk about trade standards
A six-member delegation of the European Parliament arrived in Dhaka yesterday to learn about the country's trade with Europe and its progress in adapting to more demanding trade standards.
The trade committee led by Heidi Hautala also includes José Manuel García-Margallo, Sven Simon, Agnes Jongerius, Jordi Cañas and Maximilian Krah, according to a statement of the European Parliament.
They will meet ministers of commerce, labour, justice and foreign affairs, and will hold discussions with relevant parliamentary committees. They will talk to employee associations, trade unions and civil society organisations and visit a textile and a pharmaceutical factory to assess compliance levels before departing on July 20.
They will also discuss Bangladesh's status as a beneficiary of the EU's Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference scheme through which all Bangladeshi exports can enter the EU duty- and quota-free.
The six will also look into how the country has prepared for its upgrade to GSP-plus, a programme that requires that 27 international labour, social and environmental conventions are in place.
Bangladesh currently enjoys the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility, under which it exports can enter EU duty- and quota-free. The country will be upgraded to GSP-plus once it graduates from least developed country (LDC) status in 2026.
To avail the GSP-plus facility, Bangladesh would start to pay duties on its clothing exports which constitute over 90 percent of its merchandise sold to the EU.
"The European Union is committed to a partnership with Bangladesh to support the country's socio-economic development. The EU is the most important export market for Bangladesh and ready-made garments represent 83 percent of those exports," Hautala was quoted as saying in the statement.
"Strengthening respect for human rights, freedom of expression and labour rights underpins this cooperation. I look forward to discussions in Dhaka on how Bangladesh can fully comply with the requirements of EBA and best prepare to meet the criteria for possible future GSP+ status."
She said they would also highlight the importance of the forthcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive to the country.
"It will make sure that European companies will not be complicit in violations of labour rights in their supply chains. The government of Bangladesh has all the reasons to speed up the reforms to which it is committed," said Hautala before the visit.