Commerce ministry has urged the European Union (EU) not to impose harsh trade conditions on Bangladesh apparel exports in the backdrop of factory building collapse in Savar that left over 417 workers killed.
“The country’s garment workers will suffer most when local export in the EU market dried out due to the hash trade gridlines for local export items,” according to a letter secretary Mahbub Ahmed sent to the European Union Ambassador William Hanna in Bangladesh.
The three-page letter reads: the government has already taken several kinds of measures to prevent these types of catastrophe.
Sources in the commerce ministry said the Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh submitted its initial report on Savar building collapse tragedy.
The EPB report mentioned only the loss of lives and building, and quantity of garment items which were supposed to export to the Canadian and European retailers like Primark and Loblaw, and US retailers like Wal-Mart.
Officials said the report has not covered the impact assessment on the readymade garment exports.
Late Tuesday, the EU issued a brief statement expressing concern and suggested it would look at Bangladesh's preferential trade access to the EU market to encourage better safety standards and labour conditions.
"The EU is presently considering appropriate action, including through the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) - through which Bangladesh currently receives duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market under the ‘Everything But Arms' scheme - in order to incentivize responsible management of supply chains involving developing countries," said the statement, issued by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht.
About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh's garment industry, making it the world's second-largest apparel exporter. The bulk of exports - 60 percent - go to Europe.