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Pressure Builds for Action in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is facing growing political pressure from the U.S. and Europe to improve labor conditions in the textile and apparel industry even as union leaders express worries that job cuts could result from the growing furor over the building collapse in Savar, outside Dhaka, that killed more than 400 people.
In Washington, two Democratic lawmakers sitting on House trade and labor committees on Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to convene a meeting of American and European retailers and brands, along with Bangladeshi apparel officials and labor groups, to develop a concrete action plan to address a range of issues relating to working conditions and worker rights in the Bangladeshi garment sector.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is reviewing whether to consider withdrawal, suspension or limitation of Generalized System of Preferences benefits given to Bangladesh, but a decision is not expected until the end of June, according to a spokeswoman. The GSP program in the U.S. does not provide duty-free benefits for apparel, Bangladesh’s largest export.
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