In the evaluation report spanning 2020-33, the European Union (EU) has raised apprehensions about human and labor rights issues in Bangladesh under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP). Despite Bangladesh's regular reporting on the National Action Plan for the Labor Sector since 2021, concerns persist, particularly regarding limited progress in human rights and freedom of association. The EU, which released the assessment report on November 21, 2023, cautioned that GSP preferences might be withdrawn in the face of substantial and systematic violations of core human and labor rights conventions.
The EU has enhanced its relations with GSP beneficiary nations, including Bangladesh. Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Chairman of Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID), acknowledges the validity of GSP concerns and commends the EU's meticulous investigation process.
In a parallel development, US President Joe Biden signed a memorandum on global worker empowerment and rights on November 16, 2023, signaling a commitment to international labor standards. Bangladesh's RMG sector, the largest beneficiary of EU's GSP facilities, is closely monitoring the situation, with industry leaders like Faruque Hassan expressing optimism that the EU will consider the impact on workers before taking any drastic measures. The assessment report, however, may intensify international scrutiny on Bangladesh's labor quality, prompting the need for legal support in recent labor movement-related lawsuits, according to Khandaker Golam Moazzem, Director-Research at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).