• Thursday, Dec 09, 2021
  • Last Update : 06:49 pm

Work in progress

  • Published at 07:16 pm March 28th, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:53 pm March 28th, 2017
Work in progress

When it comes to labour rights, Bangladesh has come a long way.

There is no doubt that the Rana Plaza incident was one of the worst industrial accidents in history, and that it exposed many flaws within our industries, especially our RMG sector.

But, since then, industry stake-holders have worked tirelessly to improve working conditions.

Which is why the EU’s threats of excluding Bangladesh from the Generalised System of Preferences based on the current conditions of our labour rights is unwarranted and completely unnecessary.

With Bangladesh currently enjoying duty-free access to the EU under the Everything But Arms (EBA) preference tariff scheme, losing this would be an immeasurable blow to the Bangladeshi economy.

Expelling Bangladesh from the GSP would translate to a 12% tariff on exports to the EU.

To remain competitive in the global market, it’s crucial that Bangladesh keeps its prices low.

Bangladesh and its government understand that labour rights are important. In light of the recent Ashulia protests, there is no denying that much still needs to be done, with workers’ wages still a particularly contentious issue that we have yet to find a workable solution to.

But it is not up to the EU to govern the way we do business. Such an attitude goes against the very nature of free trade.

We understand that the recent delegation from the EU seeks uniform labour standards in the country, but that shouldn’t mean that Bangladesh be threatened into submission.

Labour rights are a work in progress, as it has been in every country, and the Bangladeshi government has been moving to ensure the continued development of the nation, labour rights included.

With over 60% of our garment exports going to the EU, this is not a market where Bangladesh can afford to lose its current position.

Instead, the EU would do well to work patiently and constructively with stake-holders to ensure that worker rights are protected. After all, working together is the only way we will see any real progress.

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