Nothing to worry about new US labour policy: Momen

Foreign Minister AK Abdul MomenCollected

There is nothing to worry about the United States' new labor rights policy, as the American private sector, a major export trade partner of Bangladesh, does not pay much attention to their government, says Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

"The US labor policy would have no impact here, as the US private sector doesn't care much about their government," he said while talking to reporters at the foreign ministry on Thursday.

The Bangladesh mission in Washington has recently warned the government here that the US may use its newly adopted labour rights policy for political purposes and that Bangladesh may be one of its targets.

Asked about the letter, the foreign minister said, “I have no idea about impending developments, but I have faith in our private sector. I also believe that (purchase of) products does not stop in the US merely by a government statement.”

Explaining his stance, Momen further said, “The US private sector purchases (imports) products and they often give no attention to the government. They purchase (from here) as they get the products at a cheap rate. The readymade garment industry here is private and so do the (US) buyers.”

He also gave credit to the factories’ capability in supplying products in time for the US buyers’ interests in the apparel products of Bangladesh.

Regarding the letter, he said he is not responsible to take care of the issue. “I’ve heard that the letter is addressed to the commerce ministry and they are dealing with it.”

The foreign minister, however, slammed the media for publishing the confidential letter and described the incident as regrettable.

“It is our problem that we lack respect for the country, which sometimes persuades our respected media outlets to publish various secret documents. It is regrettable. No other country experiences such incidents,” he added.

The US president adopted the policy – Memorandum on Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labor Standards Globally – on 16 November, in an effort to protect and promote worker rights at home and around the world

In its letter dated on 20 November, the Bangladesh mission in Washington said, “Though the ‘memorandum’ appears to be a global policy applicable for all countries, there are reasons to believe that Bangladesh may be one of the targets.”

It also noted that the policy is a signal for Bangladesh as the US may take any measure described in the policy in the excuse of labour issues. Besides, the memorandum may have an impact particularly on the apparel sector in Bangladesh.