EU warns Bangladesh: Comply with due diligence laws or face trade sanctions

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EU warns Bangladesh: Comply with due diligence laws or face trade sanctions

BM Report:

Bangladesh’s garment and textile sector faces a stark choice: comply with stricter European Union (EU) due diligence laws on human rights and environmental protection, or risk sanctions and severed ties with brands.

This warning came Tuesday at a roundtable meeting in Dhaka organized by the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB), where EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley laid out the consequences of non-compliance.

“The EU member countries are creating a set of regulations on human rights and environmental protection issues,” Whiteley stated. “If they don’t comply, the manufacturer, the buyer, and the brand – anyone can be banned. In addition, heavy fines may be imposed.”

These due diligence laws cover issues like child labor, forced labor, deforestation, pollution, and ecosystem damage. Whiteley emphasized that these measures are not solely for the EU but serve global interests and are crucial for Bangladesh’s smooth transition from least developed country status by 2026.

Industry leaders raised concerns about the practicalities and costs of implementing these regulations. Farooq Hasan, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), highlighted the burden of multiple, overlapping audits from different European countries.

“Ethical practices are already being practiced in the garment sector,” Hasan said, “but this needs buyer-seller support to succeed. There’s competition among buyers to lower prices. We urge them to move away from that. After all, everyone needs a sustainable policy.”

The call for collaboration and fair pricing was echoed by other industry representatives. Mohammad Hatim, Executive President of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), and Mohammad Ali Khokon, President of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), both stressed the need for collective action and support from buyers to ensure responsible sourcing and compliance.

The roundtable discussions provided a platform for open dialogue and highlighted the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing stricter due diligence laws. Striking a balance between responsible business practices and fair trade remains a key concern for Bangladesh’s garment and textile sector.

It remains to be seen how the industry will navigate these new regulations and demands for increased accountability. Ultimately, collaboration between businesses, government agencies, and international partners will be crucial in ensuring a sustainable and responsible future for Bangladesh’s export-driven economy.

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