WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) - Bangladesh has to do more to improve factory conditions and workers rights in order to have U.S. trade benefits restored, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama revoked longtime trade benefits for Bangladesh a year ago, after a garment factory collapse and a factory fire killed more than 1,200 people and gave the country a checklist of things to improve.
A progress review found that Bangladesh registered new unions in the garment sector, dropped criminal charges against labor activists and was cooperating with private sector plans to protect worker safety, including one organized by North American retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Gap .
“However, we remain concerned about the large number of factories that have yet to be inspected, the lack of progress on needed labor law reforms, and continuing reports of harassment of and violence against labor activists,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.
The suspension of trade benefits did not directly affect Bangladesh’s multibillion-dollar clothing exports. But it hit exports of other goods including tobacco, sports equipment, china, and plastic products. (Reporting by Krista Hughes; editing by Gunna Dickson)