The two foreign inspection agencies -- Accord and Alliance -- have failed to reach a consensus on avoiding repetition in the inspection of 300 common garment factories, although they had agreed earlier.
“The Accord did not sign any agreement to say that it will not inspect the factories inspected by the Alliance. We are sticking to our plan to inspect all the 1,600 garment factories that we have listed,” said Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector of the Accord.
“All these factories need remediation. All the factories have problems more or less,” said Loewen on the sidelines of a meeting of three government secretaries and envoys of European countries and the US at the commerce ministry in Dhaka.
The Accord engineers have already completed inspecting 600 factories by May 10, and 1,000 more factories would be inspected by the end of September this year, Loewen said.
According to the plan, Alliance, a US-based platform of 26 retailers and brands, will inspect nearly 700 factories. But there are 300 factories in common that supply garment products to both Accord and Alliance.
In a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed last month, officials of Accord and Alliance agreed to avoid duplication of inspection of 300 factories. But now, the Accord is not following its commitment, although Alliance is avoiding an overlap.
“The Alliance has already left out 20 common garment factories from inspection as Accord inspected those. We avoided the inspection as we think Accord is a credible inspection agency,” said Rabin Mesbah, managing director of Alliance, after the meeting yesterday.
Mahbub Ahmed, senior secretary to the commerce ministry, said they are trying to reach a consensus on accepting inspection certifications from each other.
The commerce ministry will send a progress report to the European Union on worker safety and labour rights in the country by the end of next month, as Bangladesh committed to it in an agreement last year, Ahmed added.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse and GSP suspension by the US, Bangladesh had signed the Sustainability Compact Agreement with the EU involving International Labour Organisation, committing to improve workplace safety and labour rights.
“Our report is ready. We will send the report by the end of June,” Ahmed said.
According to the conditions of the agreement, the EU will observe progress in ensuring workplace safety and labour rights in Bangladesh for one year before taking any trade action.
“I am hopeful that EU's interest in Bangladesh is not affected, as we have progressed a lot in the last one year,” Ahmed said.
The EU is the largest trade bloc, where 59 percent of Bangladeshi goods are destined without any duty under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.