The FTA said it will maintain its engagement in the country as well as the close consultations with the PMs cabinet and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association

The FTA said it will maintain its engagement in the country as well as the close consultations with the PM's cabinet and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association

The Foreign Trade Association has warned Bangladesh its members could stop sourcing from the country if it refuses to play ball on tackling outstanding labour rights issues.

A letter was sent to the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, in a bid to push the country to cooperate with international bodies including the European Union and International Labour Organization on labour issues. 

The letter, which was sent in July, details the importance of Bangladesh as a sourcing market for the FTA membership, which represents over 2,000 retailers, outlining the "considerable volumes" the FTA companies are buying from Bangladeshi producers.

It goes on to warn Hasina that the EU is "highly concerned" about the respect of fundamental human and labour rights in the country and that it is considering an investigation to evaluate the conditions for Bangladesh to obtain preferences under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences are still met.

"This could ultimately result in the possible withdrawal of the benefits of the Everything But Arms scheme," it adds.

The letter makes reference to the "unclear role" of the Remediation Coordination Cell and the latest boiler explosion as well as the extension of the Accord without mutual consent, all of which, it says "have an impact on the reputation of Bangladesh as a sourcing hub and have led to uncertainty in the business community".

It adds many of its members are currently finalising annual budget planning and "need to decide about their future sourcing strategy", and calls for a response from the country to the official request made by the European Commission.

Last month the country's labour laws were once again in the spotlight after a boiler explosion at a factory killed 11 people. It was the second boiler-explosion related tragedy to take place in the country in under a year.

Bangladesh garment factory explosion kills 11 

Bangladesh factory fire highlights new safety concern 

An extension to the original Accord to 2021, which promised new worker protections, was signed by a number of industry names but has failed to be met with the same welcome from garment manufacturers in the country.

The FTA said it will maintain its engagement in the country as well as the close consultations with the PM's cabinet and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. An FTA Round Table is also scheduled for mid-November 2017, which will look at the labour issues in the country.

"FTA will continue to monitor the situation closely, and has offered its support to both the EU and Bangladesh in facilitating dialogue on the outstanding issues, with the hope of arriving to a positive result for all actors involved," it adds.

In June, the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing concerns for the lack of progress in a number of areas of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh. The EU has put increasingly pressure on Bangladesh to do more to align national laws and practice with ILO recommendations.

The Sustainability Compact was set up in the aftermath of the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory building in Dhaka in April 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people and injured over 2,000, outlining concrete actions the government pledged to take to strengthen workers' rights.