According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs John Baird told his Bangladesh’s counterpart Dipu Moni that Canada would work together with the country “to improve compliance in the RMG sector, including through corporate social responsibility”.
“Canada does not believe that workers in the sector should be punished through any kind of trade restrictions,” he was quoted as saying in the media release.
They were meeting in Brunei on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting.
The meeting was held days after the US decided to suspend Bangladesh’s duty-free trade access under GSP facilities as a symbolic move to pressurise Bangladesh to improve working conditions and safety the garment industry that have cost more than 1,200 lives in the past one year.
Though the decision would not hamper Bangladesh’s main export item, readymade clothes, as it was not enjoying the GSP in US market, exporters have been worried that the European Union (EU) and Canada, which account for a major share of Bangladesh’s ready-made garments, may follow suit.
The EU earlier said they would also stay engaged with Bangladesh.
According to the media release, the Canadian minister offered to send experts to promote building safety, fire safety and labour law compliance issues in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.
Baird said that the Canadian government would also encourage its buyers and retailers to engage with manufacturers and exporters in Bangladesh to improve social compliance in the sector to protect and promote the rights of workers.
Foreign Minister Moni thanked Baird for its “pragmatic approach” and briefed him about the steps taken by the government on labour safety and rights after the devastating building collapse.
The bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Canada exceeded US$ 1.6 billion last year.
Bangladesh mainly exports readymade garments while Canada sells processed agro-goods and infotech.