'Buyers also responsible'

Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry’s reforms have pleased the Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 1 April 2014, 05:07 AM
Updated : 1 April 2014, 05:07 AM

He told Bangladesh foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali in Brussels that European buyers also have responsibility to ensure factory safety and labour rights.

“We shall continue to work towards holding them accountable,” he assured his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali on Monday at a meeting in Brussels.

The foreign ministry on Tuesday in a media release said that the two ministers also expressed their satisfaction at the “ever expanding” trade relations between the two countries.
The foreign minister left Dhaka on Sunday to attend a conference on genocide in Brussels .

He also made a presentation on Bangladesh during his stay .

The ready-made garments industry, which is Bangladesh's main export , have gone through a series of reforms under pressure from the international community after the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1100 people, mostly garment workers.

The industry accounts for nearly 80 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports. Europe is its main destination where it enjoys duty-free market access.

The European Union set out a reform package for this industry after the Rana Plaza disaster, calling it “sustainable compact” .

The Belgian foreign minister’s comment came just ahead of the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse on Apr 24.

“We are pleased to follow the progress of the reforms in the RMG sector in Bangladesh,” Reynders was quoted as saying.

“We believe that our companies also have their share of responsibility in ensuring safety and labour rights, and we shall continue to work towards holding them accountable”.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister also urged Belgium to diversify its imports further and source pharmaceuticals, ships and IT-enabled services from Bangladesh.

Reynders made reference to Bangladesh’s growing economy and expressed interest in enhanced Belgian investments in promising sectors such as infrastructure development, logistics, renewable energy, waste management and healthcare.

He further proposed concluding “framework instruments” to facilitate investments in certain identified sectors.

The two Ministers held discussions on further facilitating long term visas for Bangladesh nationals, especially students, to visit Belgium.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister also briefed his counterpart about the post-election political situation in Bangladesh and “the rationale and objectives” of the ongoing trials of crimes against humanity.

The Foreign Minister also addressed a gathering of diplomats, academics, human rights and workers’ rights activists and the Bangladesh diaspora at the European Institute of Asian Studies based in Brussels.

Styled “Bangladesh’s Journey towards Peace, Justice and Development”, Mahmood Ali 's presentation updated his audience about the reforms undertaken in the ready-made garment sector, the political situation before and after theJan 5 elections, and background and evolution of the ongoing war crimes trials.

He will return to Dhaka on Wednesday.

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