Editorial: Clothing exports from Bangladesh continue to boom despite concerns over building safety - but for how long?
Bangladesh has been one of the world’s fastest growing suppliers of clothing over the last ten years. As a result, the country has become the third biggest supplier to the USA and the second biggest supplier to the EU in value terms. Clothing exporters in Bangladesh benefit from special access to the EU market under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Everything But Arms (EBA) arrangement, and such access has helped the country to increase its shipments to the EU dramatically in recent years. However, Bangladesh’s exports to the EU are under constant threat, and duty-free access to the EU could be revoked if the Bangladeshi government does not take the necessary steps to significantly improve building safety standards and labour conditions in the country. Also, Bangladesh could become a victim of its own success and lose its preferential access if the Bangladeshi government achieves its aim for the country to achieve middle income status by 2021. In this report, Robin Anson analyses the challenges faced by the clothing industry in Bangladesh with particular reference to progress made since the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013. Also, he discusses the dispute between the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (the Accord) and the Bangladeshi government as to when the Bangladeshi government will be ready to take over any remaining remediation work.