US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena, on Wednesday, warned Bangladesh of the consequences if it ignores the GSP review process, and fails to upgrade workplace conditions and ensure workers’ right to unite. “This approach, in my view, would seriously tarnish the brand and discourage American buyers and consumers from choosing the Bangladesh brand,” he warned.
He said, “Bangladesh can choose to let the Ashulia fire fade into history and ignore the generalized system of preference (GSP) review process currently under way in Washington and revert to business as usual in regard to workplace conditions and workers’ right to unite.”
The US Ambassador was addressing a conference on “Positioning Bangladesh: Branding for Business,” at Pan-Pacific Hotel in Sonargaon. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the conference in the morning.
Minister for civil aviation and tourism Faruq Khan moderated the session, which was also addressed, among others, by information minister Hasanul Haque Inu, managing director of Generation Alliance David Faulks, managing director of Prime Bank Mohammad Khasru, prominent Bangladeshi fashion designer Bibi Russell, and Laila Naz.
Mozena said Bangladesh was at a crossroad and needed to decide whether it wanted to be a global economic player. “It also needs to decide whether it wants to be the world’s largest exporter of readymade garments (RMG) replacing China,” he added.
The ambassador urged the Bangladesh government, owners and workers to seize the opportunity and launch the country on a path to be a premier producer of readymade garments and household textiles. “Now is the time for decisions,” he said.
The country also has potential to be a huge player in footwear, finished leather goods, pharmaceuticals, IT, frozen fish and jute, Mozena observed.
He said Bangladesh could choose a different course of action. It could respond effectively to the issues raised in the GSP petition, enabling these to be resolved in a satisfactory fashion.
“Bangladesh could choose to make the brand Bangladesh a preferred brand, a premium brand, a brand that American and other consumers around the world will wear with great pride,” Mozena pointed out.
He termed the protection of labour rights as the most pertinent challenge for Bangladesh. “This challenge presents a serious threat to brand Bangladesh,” he said.