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Bangladesh To Hold Summit For Garment Industry Worker ReformTuesday, December 09, 2014 > 08:30:06
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association will host the "Dhaka Apparel Summit" from Dec. 7 to 9. This upcoming event will spotlight reform efforts in the country's garment industry following two recent tragedies.
After the country experienced a fatal fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. in November 2012 and the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013, more than 1,240 workers' lives have been lost.
Two separate groups of North American and European retailers and apparel brands — along with labor groups, nongovernmental organizations and the government of Bangladesh — have since inspected hundreds of garment factories in Bangladesh and designed plans for the factories that produce their products, according to WWD.
The BGMEA hopes the summit will improve safety in Bangladesh's garment industry, in addition to building and strengthening "responsible" supply chains for the country's workers.
Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of garments in the world, following China. The $22 billion garment industry provides employment to almost four million workers in Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's Prime Minister, is expected to open the summit.
The country's government has come under fire from the Obama administration, which "suspended U.S. trade preferences from Bangladesh nearly one and a half years ago because of the twin tragedies and the government's failure to protect worker's rights," according to WWD.
More than 50 speakers will be featured over the two days at the summit, including academics from Harvard University and MIT; Wilma Wallace, deputy general counsel of Gap. Inc.; Ian Bailey, chief operation officer of Kmart Australia; Nate Herman, vice president of international trade at the American Apparel & Footwear Association; and Kihak Sung, chairman and chief executive officer of South Korean apparel-maker Youngone Corp.
Many informative panel sessions have also been organized for the event, featuring government officials from Bangladesh and other countries, international organizations, employers, worker representatives, civil society, brands, retailers, academia and the media.
Bangladesh will celebrate the "golden jubilee" of its independence in 2021, the same year it hopes to reach the garment industry's goal of $50 billion in readymade apparel exports.