The Bangladeshi government has made “noteworthy progress” on factory inspections and labour law reforms, but much remains to be done, says a senior US trade official.

The comments of Charles Rivkin, assistant secretary at the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, follow his visit to the country and talks with government officials, garment factory owners and labour leaders.

“There was agreement that building a stronger ‘Brand Bangladesh’ with a positive reputation for safeguarding labour rights would attract more foreign investors – an essential key to future growth,” said Rivkin.

“Stronger enforcement of workers’ rights and healthier labour relations, along with attention to such related issues as building safety, will help Bangladesh ensure broad-based growth and build a middle class as it competes globally and moves up the value-added chain.”

Rivkin hailed the government’s progress on safety inspections, Labor Act amendments, union registrations and efforts to comply with international labour standards and to restore its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits.

But he called for more progress on implementing regulations of the 2006 and 2013 Bangladesh Labor Act amendments, on creating a mediation process for factory workers, and on hiring more labour inspectors.

Furthermore, added Rivkin, workers in Export Processing Zones should have the same labour rights as workers elsewhere.