US’s new trade policy: Concern, uncertainty loom large in RMG sector


Al Amin :
Concern among the local apparel exporters have increased over the possible impact of the US’s new trade policy and the European Commission’s report, although the government is repeatedly saying that it will not affect the country’s RMG industry.

Despite its impressive growth, the apparel sector has been facing various disruptions for the last few years, such as geopolitical tensions, price fluctuations and supply chain disruptions.

Amid the situation, the European Union, a bloc of 27 nations, in a report on Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, recently raised concerns over anti-union discrimination, obstacles to trade union establishment and operation, occupational safety and health, labour inspection, child labour and forced labour.

The EU also expressed concerns over “alleged torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances, as well as for deficiencies regarding freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the civil society space and the application of the death penalty.”

On the other hand, the US has adopted a new trade policy recently targeting Bangladesh.

Following this, a meeting is going to be held today (Monday) to find a way to avoid the possible impact that may emerge from steps taken by the western countries. Commerce Ministry Senior Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh will preside over the meeting.

In the meeting, they will discuss the current progress of implementation of labour rights in the country’s readymade garment industry, official sources said.

They said the businesses have apprehended that Bangladesh may be the target of the US trade ban and are expecting measures taken by the commerce ministry to deal with the possible crisis caused by the restriction.

Apparel exporters, however, said that the country’s labour law has been amended thrice in the last 10 years in favor of workers by giving importance to the US interests.

The working conditions in the factories have been improved and a ‘Sustainability Strategic Vision 2030’ for the
apparel industry has already been formulated. Salary and other facilities have also been increased, they added.


As a result, there is no situation in Bangladesh to impose trade restrictions at the moment, they said.

Anwar-ul-Azim, President of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI), told The New Nation, “There are a lot of reasons to worry over the possible trade restrictions of the US and EU.

Bangladesh should take steps to keep their (US and EU) issues non-political at any cost.

Otherwise, the industry will face severe damage in the coming days.”

Apparel industry is currently contributing around 84 per cent of the country’s export earnings.

The industry is also contributing 11 per cent to the GDP providing employment to around 4 million people.

To increase the capacity of this industry, various initiatives have already been taken with the help of the government to stay ahead in the value chain through product diversification, market diversification, fiber diversification and skill development, innovation and technology upgradation and becoming cost-competitive.

Mohammad Hatem, Executive President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), “Bangladesh is taking steps to improve labour rights and working conditions.

So, the industry is unlikely to face any sanctions from the European Union or United States.”

“We do not think there will be any impact on export,” he added.