The collapse of the factory building in Dhaka is an appalling tragedy. I am shocked that over a thousand workers have lost their lives. The disaster has affected many, many more people by the loss of spouses, relatives and indeed family bread winners. I want to extend my sympathies to all that have lost loved ones and that have been hurt by the catastrophe.
At a meeting on May 8th of the Trade Policy Committee, that is currently chaired by officials from my Department, the EU Commission reported that it is exploring several avenues to demonstrate its deep concern and interest in helping the Bangladeshi authorities improve labour conditions as well as tackling the causes that brought about this tragic event. This includes co-operating with the ILO on a roadmap for safer working conditions in Bangladesh as well as looking at what opportunities there might be to use EU assistance, including Aid for Trade, to address the problems that exist.
The Commission is committed to analysing Bangladesh’s commitment to core international conventions and to working with international monitoring bodies in this context. Bangladesh receives preferential access for its exports to the EU under the General Scheme of Preferences. The EU will actively monitor the country’s commitments under this trade support scheme and will report at a later date to the Trade Policy Committee to provide an update on its activities and progress in advancing working conditions in the country. This will also include outreach to EU companies that buy from Bangladesh, to promote and help the development of higher standards of corporate social responsibility.