Morgen Jensen extolled the progress made by the Bangladesh garment sector after the worst-ever building collapse.
“Nowhere in the world have we seen multi-stakeholder collaboration on a scale like this in order to improve standards in a national industry,” Jensen said on Thursday speaking at a high-level conference on RMG sector.
“The success of this multi-stakeholder approach is a really valuable lesson that has been learnt,” he said.
The Danish government organised the meet on ‘RMG Industry and Beyond: Framing the Future’ to mark two years of Bangladesh’s worst-ever building collapse at Savar.
Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali also spoke at the conference which was organised to share the lessons learnt after the building collapse and future cooperation.
The Danish government also launched its next five year’s strategic plan in Bangladesh at the conference.
The Rana Plaza tragedy, in which more than 1,100 people died, drew global attention to Bangladesh’s factory safety standards and workers’ rights concerns.
The US cancelled Bangladesh GSP privilege that some of its products enjoyed, though the garments never enjoyed the US GSP.
The European Union also rolled out “sustainable compact” package for improving factory safety standards and ensuring workers’ rights.
Foreign Minister Ali blasted global buyers in his speech and said that countries like Bangladesh faced a situation in which “buyers take it all”.
“Ensuring decent work worldwide is about shared responsibility for shared prosperity. It is about equity and fairness,” Ali said.
The Danish minister, however, said Bangladesh had achieved a lot after the Rana Plaza, but challenges remained.
“For example,” he said, “the need for a proper enforcement of the new labour act, the need to remove barriers to freedom of association and collective bargaining and the need to continue to invest in infrastructure to ensure safe working conditions is felt.”
He said Denmark as many other countries have taken initiatives and made funding available for the effort.
He said the Danish government had entered into a “unique” partnership agreement with the Danish textile industry.
The focus of the agreement is to ensure a better and more sustainable production in Bangladesh, he said.
“I expect tangible results from this partnership, in particular when it comes to social dialogue in the workplace.”
During the conference, Denmark also launched a new initiative to work with Bangladesh in the areas of occupational health and safety.
The visiting minister, however, said for the last two years all focus had been on the clothing industry for “good reasons”, but “we should not forget the other industries that are also contributing to Bangladesh’s economy”.
He particularly mentioned leather and shipbuilding industries.
He said this conference would “inspire” other industries in Bangladesh and its stakeholders to look at how they can take advantage of the lessons learned from the clothing sector.
He, however, stressed on long-term political stability for investments and development while meeting journalists after the conference.
Denmark is one of Bangladesh’s leading development partners that currently works in areas like water, sanitation, agriculture, human rights, and development sectors.
Morgen Jensen later met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.