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Improve labour rights, EU reiterates

The European Union once again urged the government to improve labour rights if Bangladesh is to enjoy trade privileges past its graduation in to a middle-income country in 2021.Bangladesh needs to ratify and sign 27 UN core conventions including those on human rights, labour rights, good governance and environment, said Pierre Mayaudon, EU ambassador in Bangladesh, yesterday.Mayaudon was addressing a host of business people at the second quarterly luncheon meeting of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Dhaka. While the progress on ensuring workplace safety is at the final stage, there is more room for improving labour rights in the country, he said.Mayaudon also touched upon the observations made by the expert committee of the International Labour Organisation at last year’s International Labour Conference in Geneva.The EU higher-ups are scheduled to review the labour rights situation of Bangladesh in light of the observations made at the conference in the upcoming Sustainability Compact meeting in Dhaka on May 18.On allowing unionism in the export processing zones, the ambassador said the pulling out of the EPZ law from parliament by the prime minister’s office is extremely positive and commendable.“Good momentum is there in the EPZ law — it has to be sustained.”“Bangladesh should address three important challenges — social compliances, good governance and technological breakthrough — for establishing full-fledged economic relations with the EU.”While replying to queries from the media, the diplomat said the direct cargo flight between Dhaka and the EU might resume soon.On the issue of the emergence of the One Belt One Road initiative taken by China, Mayaudon said the EU is also a strong part of this regional connectivity initiative.“Bangladesh should take the best possible advantage of its geographical location. The OBOR is very good news and very encouraging for your country.”The EU is the destination of 60 percent of Bangladesh’s garment shipments.Mayaudon also touched upon the issue of security of foreign nationals following the militant attack in Gulshan last year.Many European companies had to adjust their approach towards Bangladesh after the incident, he said.The ambassador cited the political turmoil in 2014 and 2015, and said diplomats will scrutinise the security situation in the lead up to the national elections in 2019.Nihad Kabir, MCCI president, said the EU is the single biggest trading partner of Bangladesh and accounted for 23.9 percent of the country’s total trade in 2015.As per 2016 data, Bangladesh with 0.5 percent share of the EU’s trade is also the economic union’s 33rd largest trading partner.


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