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Everything but arms | Brussels, 30 January 2013

Joint Statement by HR/VP Catherine Ashton and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht following factory fires in Bangladesh

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of young workers from a fire this weekend in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This tragedy is all the more shocking as it follows only two months after another textile factory fire in Bangladesh killed more than a hundred people. The EU is Bangladesh’s largest trade partner and Bangladesh benefits from preferential access to the EU market. The European Union is deeply concerned about the labour conditions, including health and safety provisions, established for workers in factories across the country.

In the light of both these tragedies, the European Union calls upon the Bangladeshi authorities to act immediately to ensure that factories comply with international labour standards including International Labour Organisation conventions.

The EU is willing and ready to assist the Bangladeshi authorities in any way it can to meet international standards. At the same time, European and international companies need to do more to promote better health and safety standards in garment factories in Bangladesh, in line with internationally recognised guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility."

  • The EU grants Bangladesh, as well as 47 other Least-Developed Countries, duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market for all products under the “Everything But Arms (ЕВА)” scheme, which is part of the Generalised System of Preferences. Click here for more information on this scheme.
  • The EU is Bangladesh’s largest trade partner; 57% of Bangladesh’s exports go to the EU. Bangladesh is the third provider of clothing to the EU (after China and Turkey), with textile imports worth €7.9 billion in 2011. EU imports of textiles and clothing from Bangladesh are growing at a double digit growth (29% in 2011 as compared to 2010). Statistics on trade flows between the EU and Bangladesh
For further information

Statement on behalf of HRVP Catherine Ashton at the European Parliament, 17 January 2013