United States Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas today said Bangladesh needs national wage policy to address the garment workers financial challenges while strong labour laws and their implementation are vital to bilateral ties between Washington and Dhaka.
“Strong labour laws and their implementation are vital to our bilateral relationship, sustainable and inclusive development and to support a stable and predictable operating environment for US companies working in Bangladesh,” he said.
The US envoy further said the recent minimum wage review for the readymade garment sector has demonstrated the clear need for “an objective, inclusive and evidence-based National Wage Policy that addresses the severe economic challenges faced by garment workers”.
Hass made the remarks while speaking at an event titled ‘Bangladesh Cotton Day 2023” held in the capital.
The US ambassador said Washington looks forward to deepening its work with the private sector and other stakeholders to advance internationally recognized worker rights in the RMG sector and beyond.
“As we look at the readymade garment sector, one of our mission's priorities here in Bangladesh is a sustainable and broadly shared prosperity realized through improved labour standards,” he said.
Haas said labour rights are critical to the continued growth and sustainability of the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh.
Pointing the newly announced US Presidential Memorandum on "Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labour Standards Globally”, he said, this new strategy calls on all US government agencies to intensify engagements with other governments, labour organizations, trade unions, civil society, and the private sector to promote and protect the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
He said the Bangladesh decision on removal of US cotton fumigation requirement on arrival is one of the biggest economic trade successes the US Embassy here achieved in 2023.
“But this is not just a success for the United States, it is a win for all of you in Bangladesh, as it allows you faster access to high quality US cotton with lower costs,” he said adding, “I have heard that the removal of the fumigation requirement is saving individual mills up to $35,000 a year and is reducing the amount of time it takes to clear customs by several days.”
The envoy said the decision to remove the fumigation requirement was one based on science that sets a precedent for continued collaboration between the US and Bangladesh on science-based trade facilitation.
In 2022, he said, the US cotton exports reached almost $470 million, which represented 15 percent of total US exports to Bangladesh.
“I believe that the growth in market share is based on the increased awareness of the benefits of using high-quality US cotton,” he said.
Through the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, the ambassador said Washington can offer a transparent supply of sustainable cotton, which is being demanded by brands around the world.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan and BTMA president Mohammad Ali Khokon also spoke.