Bangladesh raised the issue at the second Bangladesh-US high-level economic consultation held in Washington, DC on Thursday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s adviser for private industry and investment Salman F. Rahman and US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez co-chaired the discussion.

The United States acknowledged the government of Bangladesh’s progress with respect to workers’ rights in Bangladesh in, for example, instituting safety reforms in the garment export sector, simplifying trade-union registration, developing a publicly accessible trade-union database, establishing helplines to receive complaints, digitalising labour inspection and strengthening labour courts, according to US Department of State.

The US urged Bangladesh to take further steps to adhere to internationally recognised labor rights standards, including those developed by Bangladesh for its International Labor Organization (ILO) road map.

Bangladesh expressed its commitment to swiftly pass necessary reforms and fully implement the four priority areas of the ILO road map, according to a joint statement issued by the US Department of State on Friday.

Bangladesh also expressed a commitment to address other areas of labour reform including improving workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in export processing zones (EPZs) and gradually in other sectors across Bangladesh’s economy.

Both sides decided that the effective implementation and enforcement of international labour standards can help the economies of both countries recover from the pandemic, broaden economic gains, and unlock further economic potential with other trade partners by creating an attractive business environment.

Climate, Energy and Health

The US commended Bangladesh on its admirable response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bangladesh has fully vaccinated over 76 per cent of its population and partially vaccinated over 99 per cent of the eligible population.

Bangladesh expressed gratitude for the over 64 million vaccine doses the United States donated, in partnership with COVAX, to support Bangladesh’s Covid-19 response efforts.

The US welcomed Bangladesh’s interest in the United States-developed Covid-19 Prioritised Global Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement so that Bangladesh could share best practices with the world on its effective vaccination of its population and Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMN).

The US also highlighted Bangladesh’s role as a global climate leader.

Both sides emphasised the importance of delivering on and strengthening existing commitments in the lead-up to COP 27.

The US encouraged Bangladesh to consider joining the Global Methane Pledge, urge major emitting countries to do more on climate initiatives, and continue outlining adaptation priorities.

Bangladesh welcomed USAID’s climate support, including a review of embankments to assess the feasibility of nature-based solutions to protect critical biodiverse areas from degradation.

Bangladesh encouraged US companies to invest in clean energy to help Bangladesh advance on its COP nationally determined contribution targets for climate.

Strengthening Business Engagement

The meeting participants celebrated the strong and growing economic partnership between the United States and Bangladesh, a highlight of our 50 years of bilateral relations.

The US highlighted Bangladesh’s evident potential to be a regional leader in digital trade and noted with appreciation steps taken by Bangladesh to adopt a transparent regulatory environment to secure broad-based foreign investment in its bourgeoning digital economy sector.

Bangladesh welcomed investment from US firms in Bangladesh, including in the renewable energy, telecommunications, and agricultural and food processing sectors and to its economic zones.

Bangladesh warmly welcomed a US concept of a US-Bangladesh Women’s Council, which would enhance women’s employment, entrepreneurship, and access to educational opportunities in support of a more equitable future.

Both sides decided to coordinate more on implementing existing transparent commercial policies and consistent enforcement of intellectual property rights in Bangladesh.

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