Levin Statement on USTR Review of Bangladesh Action Plan

Jan 16, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today issued the following statement in response to USTR’s review of the progress Bangladesh has made in implementing the Action Plan laid out in June 2013, when President Obama suspended the country’s Generalized System of Preferences:

Bangladesh has made some progress, but much work is left to be done to implement the Action Plan.

I’m very concerned that violence towards union workers appears to be growing. The violence at the Global Garments and Global Trousers factories, owned by the Azim Group, is deplorable. The Bangladeshi government must take a more active role in discouraging and remedying such violence. I will be following the implementation of the recent agreement between workers and Azim Group management, and will be particularly focused on ensuring that the union at the Global Trousers factory is recognized by management and that the managers at both factories who inflicted violence against workers are effectively punished.

Further, Bangladesh must not backslide on the progress it has made. More than 200 unions have been registered since the country’s GSP benefits were revoked. But there are reports that the government has recently resumed its previous practice of rejecting union applications for illegitimate reasons.

I support the U.S. Trade Representative’s findings regarding Bangladesh’s implementation of the Action Plan. The apparel industry is a vital part of Bangladesh’s economy for its business and its workers. It is equally critical for them and for the citizens of our country and Europe who purchase three quarters of the apparel that it is made under safe conditions and with a living wage. That requires that workers are able to be represented in the workplace. We look forward to working with the Administration and the Bangladeshi government to continue to make progress in this regard.