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Bangladesh, U.S. to Start Talks on Worker Safety
July 29, 2013

July 26, 2013

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Akramul Qader agreed July 25 in Washington to start discussions on worker rights and safety in Bangladesh.

Officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. departments of Labor and State will discuss implementation of the Bangladesh Action Plan with officials from Bangladesh, USTR said in a July 25 press release. The Action Plan was released July 19 along with a statement by the U.S. government on labor rights and factory safety in Bangladesh.

Implementation of the Action Plan could provide a basis for reinstatement of the Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits for Bangladesh that were suspended in June, USTR said. (The suspension becomes effective September 3.) The Action Plan provides measures related to fire and building safety, as well as to worker rights in the garment industry, export processing zones and the shrimp sector.

Froman discussed with Qader new developments on worker rights in Bangladesh, including recent labor law reform. He emphasized the importance of the government of Bangladesh following through with concrete actions that would address concerns about the ability of workers to exercise their fundamental rights and to work in safe and healthy workplaces.

“No workers should have to sacrifice their safety or their basic rights in order to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families,” Froman said. “We look forward to renewed and sustained engagement with the government of Bangladesh and other stakeholders to strengthen worker rights and safety through implementation of the Action Plan and through our coordinated efforts with the European Union and the International Labour Organization on the recently announced Sustainability Compact.”