16 July 2014 – The outgoing head of its delegation in Dhaka William Hanna wants that message “to be understood”.
“In today’s world and tomorrow’s world, market access and sustainability go together. You cannot have one without the other,” he said at a farewell press conference at the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) on Tuesday.
“And we will soon be tightening regulations on ship-breaking,” he said.
Ship-breaking industry is a recent growing export sector of Bangladesh.
The government identified it as a thrust sector but issues of environmental hazards and workers safety remained a concern for many abroad.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention other sectors where Bangladesh excels such as leather, shrimps, and tea which are exported to the EU.
“Here too issues of sustainability of the environment and safety and fair treatment of workers need to be addressed,” he said.
The EU is the largest trading partner of Bangladesh.
All Bangladesh products enjoy duty-free market access in its market.
Last year the country’s export to EU was valued at € 10.4 billion with 57 percent growth in the last three years.
The ambassador termed it a “phenomenal success” and said it’s largely due to the “dynamism, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of Bangladeshis, as well as to the duty free access the European Union provides to all goods from this country”.
After the worst-ever building collapse last year that killed more than 1,100 people, the EU came up with a ‘Sustainability Compact’ package designed to ensure factory safety and workers rights, mainly in ready-made garments sector.
“Our approach was to stay engaged and work together with local authorities to bring about real structural change in the sector,” he said.
Marking one year of the sustainable package, the EU this month acknowledged some progress but insisted much more needed to be done.
But it promised to ‘stay engaged’ and not withdraw the duty-free access as the US has done.