BD-EU to work for Rohingya relocation

Both Bangladesh and the European Union will work together for the relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhashanchar from different refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Besides, both the EU and Bangladesh also agreed on the aim to strengthen economic relationship through increased trade and investment flows, for which it was essential to ensure a predictable and transparent business environment for economic operators.

They discussed the issues on Monday at the 9th session of EU-Bangladesh Joint Commission held in the city. The discussion was held in a constructive atmosphere, covering a wide range of issues of common interest. The people and government of Bangladesh, as well as the international humanitarian community, including NGOs, have collectively provided a comprehensive response to the humanitarian challenge caused by the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh.

According to sources, the EU recalled its political and financial support to the government and the people of Bangladesh in facing the crisis. The EU expressed again its appreciation for the generous and humane role and action of the people and government of Bangladesh and stressed the need for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

Bangladesh expects continued support in this regard, according to a joint media release issued by the EU in Dhaka. Both sides expressed commitment to pursue the accountability mechanisms for the crimes committed against the Rohingyas in Myanmar through various multilateral initiatives. Bangladesh expects continued support in this regard.

Bangladesh and the EU agreed that the EU’s unilateral, preferential trade scheme - Everything But Arms (EBA) under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences – granted to Bangladesh has made a direct and significant contribution to Bangladesh’s economic growth and social and economic development.

Exports from Bangladesh to the EU more than tripled between 2006 and 2018, and the EU is currently the main trading partner of Bangladesh, absorbing half of its overall exports. The EU mentioned that Bangladesh is the source of more than 62 percent of all EBA exports to the EU, and hence the largest beneficiary from the EU EBA programme.

Both sides promised to further enhance the regular EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue to address the impediments to more trade and investment from the EU. It was recalled that EBA preferences as well as any future trade relationships are conditional on the respect of human rights, including labour rights, as reflected in the international conventions listed in the GSP Regulation.

Sustained reforms of labour rights standards by the government of Bangladesh, and their full alignment with International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on the basis of consensus of tripartite constituents is crucial in this regard. While good progress has been made on factory safety in the garment sector, many steps are still outstanding in the area of labour rights and the full implementation of the Sustainability Compact is also necessary.

The EU stressed that a fully empowered and resilient civil society, in all its diversity, is a crucial component of a democracy. The EU and Bangladesh agreed to develop a roadmap on some issues strengthening compliance with labour and human rights.