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U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh H.E. Peter Haas paid a courtesy call on BGMEA President Faruque Hassan at BGMEA Complex in Uttara, Dhaka on May 7.
During the visit, the envoy was accompanied by Leena Khan, Labor Attaché, Department of Labor, Arturo Hines, Deputy Political Economic Counselor, Megan Francic, USDA/FAS, Agricultural Attaché, Kaitlyn Denzler, USAID/DRG Labor Team Lead, Emelda Mullick, USAID/DRG, Labor Team, and Saifuzzaman Mehrab, Political and Economic Section, Labor Assistant.
BGMEA First Vice President Syed Nazrul Islam, Senior Vice President S.M. Mannan (Kochi), Vice President Shahidullah Azim, Vice President (Finance) Khandoker Rafiqul Islam, Vice President Md. Nasir Uddin, Vice President Rakibul Alam Chowdhury, Directors Abdullah Hil Rakib, Navidul Huq, Rajiv Chowdhury, Barrister Vidiya Amrit Khan, Md. Imranur Rahman, Mijanur Rahman and Neela Hosna Ara and chairmen of different standing committees of BGMEA were also present at the meeting.
Their discussions focused on various issues of mutual interest aimed at strengthening trade ties between the USA and Bangladesh, particularly how the US could support Bangladesh in increasing apparel exports including high-end garments to the US market.
They also discussed various issues relevant to Bangladesh’s RMG industry including its prospects and preparedness to continue the growth momentum.
During the meeting, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan gave an overview of how the readymade garment industry of Bangladesh has made huge progress in terms of workplace safety, environmental sustainability, and workers' rights and welfare, boosting the confidence of global buyers in the apparels made in Bangladesh.
He also highlighted how the massive safety initiatives coupled with trainings of workers jointly taken by the Government, brands, ILO and development partners transformed the garment industry of Bangladesh which has also made remarkable strides in the area of environmental sustainability, securing the leading position with the highest number of green garment factories in the world.
He also briefed the U.S. Ambassador about the progress made by Bangladesh in terms of legal reforms aimed at ensuring labor rights and welfare.
Faruque Hassan also appraised the envoy about the formation of Minimum Wage Board by the government of Bangladesh for garment workers' minimum monthly wages.
The achievements have made the industry a role model for others to emulate, he added.
He said Bangladesh's apparel industry was giving special emphasis on diversifying from basic to value-added garments, especially those made from non-cotton and technical textiles while making huge efforts and investment in technological upgradation, skills and efficiency enhancement in order to continue the sector's growth momentum.
He requested the U.S. government to allow duty-free access of the garments made of the cotton imported from the US, saying it would benefit both Bangladeshi RMG exporters and US cotton growers, thus creating a win-win situation.
He sought cooperation of the USA in making the process of importing cotton from the USA easier.
The BGMEA President informed the U.S. Ambassador about the BGMEA’s initiative to organize the Bangladesh Apparel Summit in the USA in October 2023 and requested him to expend support in organizing the event.
He also apprised the envoy of BGMEA’s initiatives of raising awareness among the garment manufacturers about intellectual property rights and counterfeit products.
He sought the support of the U.S. government for developing a better industrial relationship by jointly organizing training and seminars for workers, union leaders and entrepreneurs.
The BGMEA President also underscored ethical buying practices and fair prices of products to build a more resilient supply chain system where workers' rights and welfare are considered with high importance.
U.S. Ambassador Peter Haas praised the RMG industry of Bangladesh for its huge progress in ensuring workplace safety and workers’ rights and welfare, stressing on the importance of carrying forward the accomplishments.
He also expressed hope that Bangladesh’s garment industry would continue its development initiatives in the coming days.