Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has suggested that Bangladesh should improve its labour standard in line with ILO convention to avail GSP-plus facilities in the European Union (EU) market to face the post-LDC graduation challenges.
"When we (our products) will lose duty-free and quota-free access to the entire world market after 2027, it'll create a huge pressure on our export sector. But we've a window of opportunity which is obtaining GSP-plus facilities provided by the EU by ensuring labour rights and standards," said CPD distinguished fellow Prof Dr Mustafizur Rahman at a dialogue.
The CPD arranged the dialogue titled 'Emerging Labour Standard Demand in the Era of Bangladesh's LDC Graduation and SDG Implementation' in the capital on Tuesday, reports UNB.
Mustafizur Rahman said Bangladesh is going to be graduated out of the LDC status by 2024 and then its export will lose duty-free and quota-free access to the world market. "But, Bangladesh will have duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market till 2027."
To get the GSP-plus facilities, the country will have to ensure good labour standard and environment in line with the requirement of the core labour standard of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), he said.
He said Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)-plus facilities in the EU market.
Another CPD distinguished fellow, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, said Bangladesh has achieved a major progress on labour issues as the country is now very proactive, candid and open in terms of having discussion over the issues. "I think this change in mindset is a significant achievement."
He said Bangladesh used to show very shy and defensive attitude towards labour issues even just before Rana Plaza tragedy.
Dr Debapriya said this is the era of rising protectionism and unilateral trade measures, where World Trade Organisation (WTO) is paralysed. "So, the rule-based multilateral standard issues, including ILO, will become much more important in the near future."
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haq Chunnu who was present at the dialogue said it will not be difficult for Bangladesh to obtain the GSP-plus facilities.
He said the labour law of Bangladesh is better than many other countries. "If we bring some minor changes to the law, it'll be more worker-friendly one."
Bangladesh, he said, improved labour safety and standard rapidly compared to many other countries.
Mujibul Haq said his ministry has already indentified 38 hazardous jobs to remove child labour.
President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Siddiqur Rahman said the country's readymade garment sector improved labour safety significantly after the Rana Plaza tragedy.
He urged both owner and workers not to blame each other over the labour issues.
Deputy Director of ILO Country Office in Dhaka Gagan Rajbhandari said Bangladesh has already ratified 260 million conventions of ILO. But it has yet to ratify another core convention, which is ILO convention-138 (the provision related to minimum age for admission to work).
He said Bangladesh did good improvement in labour safety, rights and standard.
CPD Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem made a presentation over the emerging labour standard.
In his presentation, he suggested that a well-coordinated approach can be taken to address the emerging labour standard (ELS) under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework.
Chaired by PD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun, the dialogue was addressed, among others, by General Secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra Dr Wajedul Islam Khan and Executive Director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed.