It indicates following the US in suspending GSP
- Karel De Gucht EU Trade Commissioner delivers his speech during the plenary session of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua yesterday Photo- AFP
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht yesterday warned Bangladesh of implementing the mutually agreed roadmap to improve the security of readymade garment factories to avert a serious consequence in its export trade.
“If nothing substantial progress is made, there will be a serious problem with the EU and EU parliament,” he told a press conference on the sidelines of ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Bangladesh enjoys duty-free and quota-free market access of its products to the European market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) programme of the EU the largest export destination of Bangladesh.
The EU Trade Commissioner was replying to a question about their intention over the trade concession to Bangladesh as the USA has suspended the GSP facilities in June after the deadliest Rana Plaza factory collapse and Tazrin Fashion fire incident.
He rang alarm bells for the first time after signing the EU and Bangladesh agreement on improving the factory condition on July 8, mediated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“It’s true that USA suspended GSP, but that has very limited practical impact,” Karel said, ponting out that the EU market is very important for Bangladesh.
“Yes, we have set some points. We wanted your government to do a number of things (as) we wanted to keep duty-free quota-free market access and it is essential for you,” he said.
But, he said, it all depends on labour rights, collective bargaining agents, improvement of factory conditions and security in workplaces.
He said the EU was working closely with the government of Bangladesh to improve the situation – what is now happening and what should happen to improve the working condition. “It’s for the best of your interest, take this roadmap seriously, put things right,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh officials are claiming that they have made some progress in an action plan taken through consultation with the stakeholders and based on the instructions by the US authorities as well as the agreement with the EU.
“We’ve taken the initiatives to implement what needs to be done to improve the working conditions,” said Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, who is leading the Bangladesh delegation to the conference.
He said the action plan of the government adopted on the basis of what the USA and European Union want has achieved substantial progress in implementation, and the developments were being regularly shared with them.
“Now, they will decide what they want to do with the issue,” said the secretary.
Source: Dhaka Tribune