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DHAKA – After several months of negotiations, there are the first signs this past week that compromise is being reached over the proposed continuation of the Bangladesh Accord. Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has this week extended the tenure of the Accord to April 7, a move which has come as a surprise to many observers. A four-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by chief justice syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order order, while attorney general Murad Reza suggested negotiation is going on between the government and Accord.

Meanwhile, last week saw the first softening of stance from Siddiqur Rahman, president of the hugely influential Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) which has close ties with the government of Bangladesh. He said: “In reaching a consensus, the Government has formed a committee and it is working to resolve the issues. As the apex trade body of the apparel sector, we want an amicable settlement. Considering the present status of remediation, the Accord needs a maximum of six months to complete the remediation of the factories.”

This is a notable change of tack. Rahman had previously stated in clear terms that the Accord’s work was finished and that its duties needed to be handed over with immediate effect.

The Bangladesh Accord itself has reportedly sought a time period of 281 days to hand over the monitoring of factory safety and compliance progress to the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC). The buyers’ body reportedly put forth the extension request for transition and completing the remediation process, at a recent meeting with a Government-formed committee which is overseeing settlement issues.

Editor’s comment: The Bangladeshi government has been saying since last autumn that the Bangladesh Accord needs to leave the country. Since that time it has come under huge pressure from international agencies, MEPs and NGOs to allow the Accord to remain and complete its work. We suspect that it does not want to make a public u-turn on this matter so, in order to save face – and effectively allow the Accord to remain in the country – it is repeatedly putting off the decision.

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