New BGMEA president Rubana Huq sits with Accord officials

BDApparelNews Desk
26 April 2019  

BGMEA President Rubana Huq. Photo Courtesy: Collected

BGMEA President Rubana Huq. Photo Courtesy: Collected

New president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Rubana Huq has met with officials of Bangladesh Accord, the European agency for factory remediation.

She conversed with officials of Accord through video conferencing from the new BGMEA Office in Uttara Sector 17. According to BGMEA’s programme schedule, the meeting was slated for 3:00pm on April 25, 2019. Highly placed insiders said the meeting ended around 6:00pm.

The meeting comes just days after Rubana Huq took charge as president of BGMEA, the leading forum of Bangladesh’s apparel manufacturers and exporters, at a time when the matter of Accord’s extension to operate in the country is hanging at the Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Accord writes to Bangladesh seeking time

Bangladesh Apparel News could not ascertain the contents of the discussion. However, it is believed that Rubana Huq was the only BGMEA leader in the meeting.

“This was an introductory meeting with officials of Accord,” a senior leader of the BGMEA told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity. “Since Rubana Huq just assumed office as BGMEA president, this meeting was arranged to exchange felicitations.”

Notably, Accord is yet to give out any formal statement on this issue as of yet.

READ MORE: Retail apparel brands speak out for Accord

The third-party compliance regulator’s extension has drawn international support, which has turned around to become a pressure on Bangladesh government in the recent times.

Regarding how BGMEA’s newly-elected panel of Rubana Huq is viewing this international pressure, leaders showed a very strong noncompromising position.

“The issue of Accord’s extension is in the Supreme Court. We don’t have a say in this sub-judice issue,” Md Faisal Samad, senior vice-president of BGMEA, told Bangladesh Apparel News. “But we will not accept any international pressure.”

“We have improved a lot over the last five years. Now we are in a positive position. We have worked very hard to come here. Now, we want to move forward with our stakeholders. But we all need to have a positive outlook to that journey ahead,” he said.

THE TUSSLE WITH ACCORD

Accord’s five-year-term to remediate Bangladesh’s apparel factories ended in November 30. Since then, the third-party platform of European buyers and retailers were seeking an extension to continue operation in Bangladesh.

READ MORE: Accord must stay within 8 conditions

With the government and apparel industry leaders unwilling to let it stay in Bangladesh any longer, things rolled on to the court, and gradually the Supreme Court.

According to court proceedings, the government wants to impose an 8-point set of condition on the Accord – what international rights groups say will strip its independence.

Up until now, the government was adamant on getting rid of Accord before international community united against the imposition and raised its voice against it.

In the latest, Accord’s hearing has been deferred to May 19.

BANGLADESH ‘HAS HAD ENOUGH’

In the meanwhile, Bangladesh’s government and its apparel industry is openly frustrated over the dillydallying and wants Accord gone from the country.

Several industry stakeholders, including top officials from trade groups, told Bangladesh Apparel News that Accord forced many industries to undergo expensive remediation work – costing from US $2 million to US $10 million – for each of the remediated factories.

Now, after such expensive remediation works, the buyers, though are happy with the compliance works, are not paying fair sum to recover some of the costs, one top official of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) told Bangladesh Apparel News on anonymity.

Bangladesh’s government officials have repeatedly lambasted Accord for seeking extension. Actions of Accord – on the note of terminating ties with over 500 factories for noncompliance – have been highly criticised.