US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on Thursday said the United States absolutely wants to continue partnership in Bangladesh’s RMG sector transformation and help BGMEA reach its goal of exporting $50 billion by 2021, UNB reports. “The US is here today because we absolutely want to continue this partnership and help BGMEA reach its goal of exporting $50 billion by 2021,” she said adding that this is an ambitious, but very possible goal.
The US diplomat was addressing an event titled ‘Bangladesh Apparel & Safety Expo, Chittagong 2015′ held at Radisson Blu Chittagong Bay View. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed inaugurated the exposition. President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Atiqul Islam and BGMEA first vice president Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury will also be present.
Bernicat said the US and other governments, along with the brands, are playing a valuable role to strengthen the RMG sector; and they intend to stay engaged. “Together with you, the other international partners and the brands, I’m confident we’re building a better and more productive RMG sector and demonstrating to the world that business success goes hand-in-hand with workers’ rights and safety,” she said.
In the end, though, Bernicat said it is Bangladesh and the exporters who need to make the choice about whether ‘you want an industry that fully meets international standards and whether you are ready to make the courageous and responsible choices that are needed for the industry to evolve and continue to thrive.’ The US envoy said the readymade garment sector, represented by the factory owners as well as the men, and especially the women working in this sector, has been the engine behind the remarkable story of Bangladesh’s economic growth.
The United States is the largest single consumer buying Bangladeshi garments ($5 billion last year). This expo is visible evidence of the RMG industry’s commitment to improving and developing itself and thereby contributing to the ongoing development of Bangladesh, Bernicat said. “I look forward to speaking later about the question of the future of the Bangladesh brand, but right now I want to talk briefly about the past and the present.”
The US Government has worked closely — and proudly –with the Bangladesh government, brands, factory owners, and unions to strengthen workers’ safety and labor rights, and to foster a stronger industry, she added. Bernicat said the US government will work with two Bangladeshi banks to fund a $22 million credit guarantee to facilitate loans from those banks to you for safety improvements in your readymade garment factories.
The US has been working to improve labour conditions and support the freedom of association in Bangladesh since before the Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza disasters. Through grants to the Solidarity Center, USAID provided training to approximately 11,000 RMG union leaders and members—more than half of whom were women—on collective bargaining, union leadership, industrial dispute resolution, media and organizational democracy.