Factory owners to explain safety steps to foreign envoys
Owners of garment factories will explain safety measures to the envoys of the major export destinations in a bid to assure them of workplace upgrades undertaken in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse.
“We will soon hold meetings with envoys of the EU, the US, Canada and other major countries to show the safety measures we have taken in factories,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
More than 90 percent of the country's garment exports go to the EU, the US and Canada, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.
“We want to send out a strong message to the Western consumers via their envoys that the country has taken the issue seriously and is working for further improvement.”
He, however, did not specify a date for the meeting.
The response from garment manufacturers come after the Western customers threatened to stop patronising Bangladeshi garment products on grounds of lax factory safety standards, in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse, which killed at least 1,100 dead and injured thousands.
The BGMEA president said the scheduled visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry on June 25 is a “positive” sign, as the US is the single largest export destination of the country's garment items.
Islam's comments came after a meeting with Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at her office yesterday.
Dipu Moni also discussed the latest situation regarding the generalised system of preferences (GSP) that allows zero tariffs for exports to the US and the EU, said a BGMEA official present at the meeting.
“The foreign minister is also expecting a positive outcome from the USTR [United States Trade Representative] hearing on GSP,” the official added.
The USTR was due to give out the verdict of the hearing, which took place on March 28, in the first week of June, but has decided to delay it after the Rana Plaza collapse.