US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on Tuesday said Bangladesh has come so far in the 47 years since liberation and has so much potential to achieve even more.
“Continued economic development and growth depends on Bangladesh remaining vigilant and continuing to address issues like factory safety and labor rights,” she said.
The US Ambassador was addressing a farewell lunch hosted by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at its office, according to UNB report.
The US Ambassador appreciated BGMEA leaders’ essential role in managing the engine of Bangladesh’s economy, helping to lift hundreds of thousands of workers out of poverty, and making Bangladesh a key player in global trade.
She said since 2013, with the help of Accord and Alliance, apparel manufacturers have dramatically transformed their garment and apparel factories, making them among the safest in the world.
“I encourage you to draw on the expertise and experience that Alliance and Accord have to offer and to accept transitional arrangements to keep your hard-earned progress on track until the RCC (Remediation Coordination Center) is ready to assume full responsibility,” she said.
The Ambassador, however, said the next big hurdle for BGMEA is the issue of worker rights.
“Unfortunately, progress here has lagged in recent years. I encourage you to make necessary and relevant legislative changes as soon as possible. There is no upside to dragging this out,” she said.
Bernicat said bringing laws up to international standards – and implementing them – will improve Bangladesh’s international competitiveness and help it increase its market share in the worldwide garment industry.
“Continuing to delay action – especially as consumers pay increasingly more attention to these labor issues in their buying decisions – threatens to undermine the country’s good reputation and increases the risk that international buyers will begin to look elsewhere,” she said.
As one of Bangladesh’s main development partners, the US celebrated Bangladesh’s recent achievement of lower middle income status.
Bernicat said the US congratulated Bangladesh for already meeting all three UN criteria necessary for graduating from LDC status in 2024.
The US Ambassador wished much success and luck in business endeavors by the BGMEA leaders.
"I look forward to many more years of close partnership between Bangladesh and the United States, to the mutual benefit of both countries," she said.
BGMEA President M Siddiqur Rahman thanked the departing US Ambassador for her constructive role in strengthening the Bangladesh-US relations and extending support for the development of Bangladesh RMG industry.
Terming the US as one of the key export destinations for Bangladesh’s apparel, he further laid emphasis on continued support from the country for the industry.
BGMEA Senior Vice President Faruque Hassan, Vice President (Finance) Mohammed Nasir and Directors M Shahidul Haque Mukul, MA Rahim (Feroz), M Ashikur Rahman (Tuhin), Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, M Munir Hossain, M Atiqul Karim Khan, M Rezwan Selim and M Shaif Ullah were also present at the programme.