The US visa restrictions and the EU's concerns about human rights in Bangladesh, as well as not sending election observers for the next national poll, will not impact apparel exports to both destinations, leaders of the sector said on Tuesday.
"Exports will continue smoothly," the leaders said during a press conference held at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) office in Dhaka's Uttara.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said, "The US has the right to not give visa to anyone or to send back anyone from the airport despite having a visa. It has nothing to do with business or any other sector."
"During the Covid-19 pandemic, none of the businessmen were able to go abroad but still managed to do business. So this time the restrictions will have no impact on businesses," he added.
"The US has always supported workers' rights, and I believe they will not make any decisions that will impact the lives of our citizens," Faruque Hassan said.
In the same event, former BGMEA president and ruling party lawmaker Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin revealed that during his visit to the EU last year, regional allies raised some concerns about labour and human rights.
"The EU informed me during my visit that they are giving less priority to Bangladesh for sending election observers, as democracy is continuing here. They also mentioned that they have a manpower shortage to observe polls in other countries and are focusing on autocratic countries," Mohiuddin said.
He further noted, "Democracy also faces questions around the world, and we are also part of this. But since we are on the path of democracy, the EU is not sending observers here. So, there is no reason for our exports to be impacted."
Regarding allegations of laundering Tk300 crore against 10 exporters, where four are BGMEA members and two are members of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Faruque blamed the customs.
He said, "The allegation is baseless, and we will take legal action against customs authorities. How did they send a press release to the media about the allegation before the trial? The media reports damage the apparel sector and Bangladesh's reputation in the global community."
Mohiuddin added, "Our internal investigation found that these 10 exporters are not guilty. So, customs authorities will have to prove that they are guilty, otherwise, we will not tolerate their illegal activities."
He also mentioned that the prolonged global economic crisis would likely prevent export growth to the EU market from exceeding 1% this year, and that the US market would likely have a similar outcome.