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Dhaka Tribune

US envoy: Implementing strong labour laws vital for bilateral ties

The ambassador emphasized the necessity for an inclusive and evidence-based National Wage Policy, particularly underscored by the recent minimum wage review for the readymade garment (RMG) sector

Update : 07 Dec 2023, 07:53 PM

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D Haas on Thursday emphasized the crucial role of robust labour laws and their effective implementation in shaping the bilateral relationship between the United States and Bangladesh. 

He underscored their significance not only for fostering sustainable and inclusive development but also for establishing a stable and predictable operating environment conducive to the interests of US companies operating in Bangladesh.

The ambassador conveyed these sentiments while addressing a seminar on Bangladesh Cotton Day 2023, organized by Cotton USA in the capital. 

He highlighted that regarding the readymade garment (RMG) sector, a top priority of the US mission in Bangladesh is to achieve sustainable and widely shared prosperity through the enhancement of labour standards.

“This brings me to labour rights which are critical to the continued growth and sustainability of the RMG sector in Bangladesh,” he added. 

On November 16, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new US Presidential Memorandum on ‘Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High labour Standards Globally.’ 

The new Global labour Strategy, as articulated by the US Ambassador, urges all government agencies to enhance their engagement with governments, labour organizations, trade unions, civil society, and the private sector. The goal is to safeguard the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The ambassador further emphasized the necessity for an objective, inclusive, and evidence-based National Wage Policy, particularly underscored by the recent minimum wage review for the readymade garment (RMG) sector. 

This, he noted, would address the profound economic challenges faced by garment workers.

"The United States looks forward to deepening our work with the private sector and other stakeholders to advance internationally recognized worker rights in the RMG sector and beyond." 

He also acknowledged Bangladesh as an important customer for the US, expressing gratitude for the continued support and business.

Highlighting a significant trade achievement of the year, he shared that, this year Bangladesh removed the requirement for US cotton to be fumigated on arrival—a major success for the Embassy in 2023. 

He stressed that this success benefits not only the US but also the businesses in Bangladesh, enabling faster access to high-quality US cotton at lower costs.

Noting the tangible impact, he revealed that the removal of the fumigation requirement is saving individual mills up to $35,000 a year and is reducing the amount of time it takes to clear customs by several days.

Turning to statistics, the ambassador highlighted that in 2022, US cotton exports reached nearly $470 million, constituting 15% of total US exports to Bangladesh. He emphasized the role of the US Cotton Trust Protocol in offering a transparent supply of sustainable cotton, meeting the demands of global brands.

During the event, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan urged Ambassador Peter Haas to convey Bangladesh's positive efforts for the RMG industry and workers to the US administration. He emphasized the need for recognition of the country's initiatives for garment workers and environmental sustainability.

Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of the BTMA, expressed optimism about the increased import of US cotton, attributing it to the maintenance of cotton quality. He conveyed gratitude to the government for the removal of the fumigation requirement and appreciated the organizers of the Cotton Day Bangladesh event.

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