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Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Akramul Qader agreed today in Washington to initiate discussions on the actions to be taken to address worker rights and safety in Bangladesh. Officials from USTR and the Departments of Labor and State will discuss with officials from Bangladesh implementation of the Bangladesh Action Plan, which was publicly released on July 19 along with a Statement by the U.S. Government on Labor Rights and Factory Safety in Bangladesh. Implementation of the actions outlined in the Plan could provide a basis for the President to consider reinstatement of the Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits for Bangladesh, which were suspended in June 2013. (The suspension becomes effective on September 3, 2013.) The Action Plan provides a list of measures related to fire and building safety, as well as worker rights in the garment industry, export processing zones, and shrimp sector, which the U.S. Government encourages Bangladesh to take in order to address worker rights and safety issues.
Ambassador Froman discussed with Ambassador Qader new developments on worker rights in Bangladesh, including recent labor law reform, and emphasized the importance of the Government of Bangladesh following through with concrete actions that would address broad concerns related to 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,” said Ambassador Froman. “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 Labor Organization on the recently announced Sustainability Compact.”