Flags of European Union and Bangladesh
File photo

A six-member delegation of the European Parliament reached Dhaka on Monday morning on a three-day visit to get first-hand information on the country’s trade with Europe, its progress in adapting to more demanding trade standards and protecting labour rights.

The delegation has already held meetings with heads of European missions and labor leaders of the country. The EU delegation is scheduled to meet civil society members and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) representatives today.

Vice-president of the European Parliament Heidi Hotula leads the delegation, said a circular published on the website of the European Parliament.

Between 18 and 20 July, Trade Committee members will discuss Bangladesh’s status as a beneficiary of the EU’s Everything But Arms trade preference scheme through which all Bangladeshi exports (apart from arms and ammunition) can enter the EU duty- and quota-free, said a news release on European Union parliament.

The delegation leader Heidi Hautala said before the visit, “The European Union is committed to a partnership with Bangladesh to support the country’s socio-economic development. The EU is the most important export market for Bangladesh and ready-made-garments represent 83 per cent of those exports. Strengthening the respect for human rights, freedom of expression and labour rights underpins this cooperation."

The statement published on the European Parliament website quoted Hautala as saying, "I look forward to discussions in Dhaka on how Bangladesh can fully comply with the requirements of EBA and best prepare to meet the criteria for possible future GSP+ status. I will also highlight the importance of the forthcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive to the country."

The members of European parliament (MEP) will meet a number of ministers including the ministers of commerce, labour, justice and foreign affairs, and will discuss with relevant parliamentary committees. They will also hold discussions with employee associations and visit a textile and a pharmaceutical warehouse to assess its level of compliance.

This is the second visit by the European Union this year. Earlier, the EU officials came to Dhaka on a four-day visit last March. The delegation visited Bangladesh to review the status of EBA, EU’s special trade facility granted to Bangladesh. The EU delegation also reviewed various steps taken by the Bangladesh government in upholding labour and human rights.