Emphasizing the need for a smoother and more sustainable supply chain and sourcing of apparels, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Faruque Hassan has urged the US buyers to minimize multiple auditing of the factories to reduce the cost on the owners and offer higher prices for apparels from Bangladesh.
The BGMEA President, now visiting the US to promote Bangladesh's apparel export to the US market, came up with the call while speaking at a roundtable in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
The Bangladesh Embassy hosted the roundtable to brief the US government and relevant stakeholders on the ongoing efforts to improve factory safety and workers' welfare in the readymade garment industry in Bangladesh and encourage more US import of Bangladeshi readymade garments.
Addressing the roundtable, Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States M Shahidul Islam said the government has long been undertaking various measures and initiatives to support the welfare of workers of the RMG industry.
The roundtable titled "Seven years after Rana Plaza: Who's doing what?" was participated by senior US government officials, including Christopher Wilson, Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for South Asia; William Jackson, Assistant USTR for Textiles; and Jennifer Larson, Director for South and Central Asia of the US Department of State; Maureen Haggard, Director for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US Department of State; BGMEA Vice President Miran Ali, Ambassador Teresita Schaffer from the McLarty Associates, representatives of US-Bangladesh Business Council, American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), Walmart, Target, as well as senior officials of the Bangladesh Embassy.
The event was organized as BGMEA Faruque Hassan is now visiting the US to promote Bangladesh's apparel export to the US market.
In his presentation, Faruque Hassan highlighted various initiatives taken both by the Bangladesh government and his association, including establishment of the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) and formation of Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC) to sustain workplace safety and promote rights and welfare of the garment workers.
He briefed the participants about the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to Bangladesh garment industry and how his association supported the workers during this difficult time, urged the US buyers to minimize multiple auditing of the factories to reduce cost on the owners and emphasized the need for a smoother and more sustainable supply chain and sourcing of apparels.
The BGMEA president also acknowledged the government's generous contributions through the stimulus package in this regard.
In view of the increased minimum worker's wage and incremental operational and production cost in Bangladesh, the BGMEA president requested the US buyers to offer higher and fair prices for apparels from Bangladesh.
He also urged the US government to consider a tariff reduction for Bangladeshi RMG products.
During the interactive session, Assistant USTR Christopher Wilson described the current US administration's emphasis on welfare of the workers both at home and abroad.
Mentioning tariff issue as the prerogative of the US Congress, he underscored the need for constant and closer engagements between the two governments on labor and related issues.
The participants in the roundtable also discussed a range of other relevant issues, including empowerment of women workers in the industry, Covid-19 and vaccine support for the garment workers.
The participants appreciated the roundtable as an effective and timely initiative to exchange information on the important issue of workers' welfare that have both economic and human rights dimensions.
Ambassador Shahidul Islam concluded the roundtable by underlining the importance of taking comprehensive discussions and dialogues in all forums including TICFA to further promote trade and business between Bangladesh and the US