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A U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) delegation met the BGMEA leadership to discuss bilateral trade and workers’ rights issues

A meeting between the visiting delegation of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) was held at the BGMEA Complex in Dhaka on April 22.

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This high-level engagement aimed to discuss critical issues surrounding bilateral trade and policies including workers’ rights, wellbeing, and market access matters.

Led by Brendan Lynch, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asia, the USTR delegation also comprised Emily Ashby, USTR Director for South and Central Asia, and Jennifer Oetken, USTR Director for Labor Affairs. Joseph Giblin, Economic Unit Chief, and Leena Khan, Labor Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka were also present in the meeting.

The BGMEA side was headed by its President S. M. Mannan (Kochi) and included Senior Vice President Khandoker Rafiqul Islam, Vice President (Finance) Md. Nasir Uddin, and Vice President Abdullah Hil Rakib.

Directors of BGMEA Asif Ashraf, Shovon Islam, Mohammad Sohel Sadat, Md. Ashikur Rahman (Tuhin), Shams Mahmud, Nusrat Bari Asha, and Chair of BGMEA Standing Committee on ILO and Labour Affairs ANM Saifuddin were also present.

During the discussions, BGMEA President S. M. Mannan (Kochi) shared updates on the significant progress made by the ready-made garment industry regarding workplace safety, workers’ rights, and ongoing labor law reforms in Bangladesh.

He reiterated the commitment and the ongoing efforts of the government of Bangladesh and of the industry to make further progress in workers’ rights and welfare issues.

BGMEA sought support and collaboration of the U.S. government to ensure fair minimum price of apparel, and a unified code of conduct for social audits. BGMEA also demanded the US government to reinstate GSP in favor of Bangladesh and include garment items in its GSP program.

While the USTR delegates appreciated the progresses Bangladesh made in past few areas in the labor sector, they briefed the meeting about the U.S. government’s labor action plan, and areas where further improvements are required, including amendments in the BLA.

The meeting highlighted importance of collaboration and engagement towards making the RMG industry more sustainable.

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