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Dhaka to discuss labour rights with diplomats soon

Published : Tuesday, 5 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 378

Bangladesh is scheduled to present its stance on the labor rights situation in the country and provide updates on the progress in the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to diplomats from five countries-USA, EU, France, Spain, and Germany-along with a representative from the International Labour Organization (ILO) soon.

Three senior secretaries of the ministries of commerce, labour and foreign affairs will hold the dialogue, Foreign Ministry official said.

Experts have recommended that Bangladesh promptly initiate discussions with the USA and the European Union (EU) to address concerns raised by these international stakeholders. This suggestion comes in response to the recent announcement by US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken regarding a memorandum on global labor rights by President Joe Biden on November 16.

The Biden administration's new policy approach is considered vital for any potential future application for the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) in export markets for Ready-Made Garments (RMG) products in the EU and the USA.

The labour issue has gained prominence following a letter from the Bangladeshi mission in Washington to the commerce ministry expressing concerns about potential measures by the US that could impact Bangladesh's overall trade.

Additionally, last week, the European Union (EU) voiced apprehensions regarding the labor rights situation, raising questions about whether Bangladesh should maintain eligibility for duty preferences in the EU, its largest export destination.

This issue arose in the European Commission's assessment report on the European Union's Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) program published on November 21.

In a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell emphasized that the preferences under the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative are dependent on the adherence to human rights, including labor rights, as outlined in the international conventions listed in the GSP regulations.

Both the United States and the European Union are seeking information about the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). In 2021, Bangladesh adopted the NAP (2021-2026), closely linked to a roadmap for enhancing labor rights submitted by the government to the International Labour Organization's (ILO) governing body.

The roadmap aims to enhance the country's adherence to labor rights, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

The upcoming meeting, referred to as the 3+5+1 meeting, will involve three secretaries, five diplomats, and one ILO representative. Discussions will cover various issues, including the labor rights situation and progress in the NAP's implementation.

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