Joint commission meeting begins
EU voices concern over work atmosphere in RMG factories
Dhaka and Brussels Tuesday began a two-day joint commission meeting in the city, with the European Union (EU) voicing concern over the work atmosphere prevailing in the country's hundreds of ready-made garment (RMG) factories.
"We want to buy your products. At the same time, we want to see apparel exporters providing proper benefits to workers and ensuring decent work atmosphere," said Herve Jouanjean, EC Deputy Director General for Asia and Latin America as emerged out of the third commission meeting.
Jouanjean and Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Ismail Zabiullah are co-chairing the joint commission meeting at the National Economic Council in the city.
"The EU buyers remain concerned over the current work atmosphere in local RMG units," Jouanjean, who is also leading the EC team, said.
The EU apparel buyers will extend support to the government if it takes steps to improve the working atmosphere at RMG factories, he added.
The global buyers continue to push for social compliance, as the allegations of poor and erratic salary and hazardous work environment at the RMG industry are rife.
The recurrence of fire incidents at several RMG units, including the latest KTS tragedy in Chittagong that killed scores of workers, has drawn widespread criticism, thus sullying the image of the industry abroad.
The EU is the country's prime export destination of apparel and shrimp products.
"You can export shrimp all over the world … But you must keep in mind that nitrofuran is being widely used in exported shrimps," the leader of the EC team told newsmen.
"Local shrimp exporters are using too much anti-biotic. This issue must be addressed to sustain the export flow," Jouanjean said.
The EC executive said the executive arm of the 25-member bloc would provide 67 million euros to the government as development aid this year.
Responding to a question, the EC official said the EU would continue to support Bangladesh's causes in the next ministerial meetings of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The ERD Secretary said Dhaka and Brussels would take "a middle course" to help allay confusion of local apparel exporters over the new EU GSP (generalized system of preferences).
Zabiullah said the Private Sector Development Project (PSDP) is now in its final stage and the EC would contribute 16 million euros to the multi-donor-supported project.
Under the PSDP, the government will build special economic zones outside the existing industrial parks, he added.