Background

The U.S. and Bangladesh held on June 2 their second bilateral high-level economic consultation meeting in Washington, D.C., where they addressed a range of matters of mutual interest. Among other things, Bangladesh made a number of labor-related commitments and the two sides discussed the recently announced Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

On labor, the U.S. recognized various actions taken by Bangladeshi authorities to advance labor rights, including safety reforms in the garment export sector, simpler trade union registration, the development of a publicly accessible trade union database, the establishment of helplines to receive complaints, the digitalization of labor inspections, and stronger labor courts, but also called on Bangladesh to take further steps to adhere to internationally recognized labor rights standards such as those developed by Bangladesh for its International Labor Organization road map.

Bangladesh said it would swiftly pass necessary reforms and fully implement the four priority areas of the ILO road map and committed to address other areas of labor reform, including improving workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in export processing zones and gradually in other economic sectors.

Both sides agreed that the effective implementation and enforcement of international labor standards can help their respective economies recover from the pandemic, broaden economic gains, and unlock further economic potential with other trade partners by creating an attractive business environment. The U.S. also said it would consider Bangladesh’s interest in receiving U.S. development finance from the International Development Finance Corporation for a wide range of infrastructure opportunities.

On IPEF, the U.S. briefed Bangladesh on this new initiative and Bangladesh welcomed additional information on its supply chain resilience and decarbonization pillars. Bangladesh also sought U.S. technical assistance to sustainably explore its ocean resources and further develop its blue economy in pursuit of environmental protection and economic prosperity.

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