The Bangladesh government has allocated land close to the capital Dhaka to relocate potentially unsafe garment factories, ahead of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) hearing on 28 March on whether the country should continue to enjoy GSP access to American markets.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, told just-style the new plots would be in Munshiganj district.

The decision follows the death of 120 garment workers in two recent fires, which exposed poor standards and lack of safety measures in factories making clothes for leading global brands.

This, in turn, has led to renewed calls in the US for Bangladesh to lose its GSP status. 

Mohiuddin will accompany the senior official (secretary) at Bangladesh's commerce ministry to Washington for the USTR hearing to resist the move. Indeed, the pair will also argue for GSP to be applied to Bangladesh garment exports too.

"We are making significant improvements across the board," said Mohiuddin. Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government is identifying factories that need relocation. The world's second largest clothing exporter has nearly 5,000 garment factories.

The BGMEA chief said 35,000 workers will be trained this year on fire safety. "We will make our case at hearing and try our best to get the facility for the garment sector," Mohiuddin said.