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Conditions in Bangladesh’s massive RMG sector

“We are encouraged to see the huge steps taken in the last one year to improve working conditions in Bangladesh’s massive RMG sector, but there is still some way to go for sure,” said Ms. Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands during her meeting with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mr. A. H. Mahmood Ali, MP at the Dutch Foreign Ministry this morning.

The Dutch Minister suggested that the Government of European Union and the Government of Bangladesh should work together to impress upon the international companies, including the European ones, to adequately contribute to the compensation fund for the Rana Plaza victims.

She expressed her interest in further discussing the exact modalities for cooperation in this regard during her scheduled visit to Bangladesh in the end of May this year.

Minister Ploumen, who had visited Bangladesh following the Rana Plaza tragedy in June last year, said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Government did the right thing to press ahead with necessary reforms in the RMG sector to improve labour rights and safety.

The Dutch Minister particularly acknowledged the raise in minimum wage in the RMG sector which she considered to be a positive step forward.

The two Ministers discussed the need for creating necessary comfort level for the RMG industry about the factory inspections being carried out to ensure safety standards. They agreed that the RMG sector needs to be made sustainable and resilient in the larger interest of Bangladesh’s poverty alleviation efforts and economic development.

The Dutch Minister also expressed satisfaction at the rapid turnaround of Bangladesh’s economy immediately after the parliamentary elections in January this year.

Referring to bilateral cooperation in water management, Minister Ploumen observed that the Netherland’s engagement with Bangladesh in the sector has now moved from an aid-driven approach to a more public-private partnership model.

In this context, she responded positively to the Bangladesh Foreign Minister’s suggestion for the Netherlands to undertake some concrete work along Bangladesh’s coastal belt towards land reclamation.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister thanked the Dutch Government for hosting the Global Oceans Action Summit to bring the issue of “Blue Economy” to the forefront of the post-2015 development discourse.

The Ministers agreed that the Netherlands and Bangladesh could continue to learn from each other’s experience in living with the water, rather than “fighting” it.

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