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US Sen. objects to excluding textile firms in Defense Bill
Dec '13
Senator Bob Corker, Ranking Member, Committee on Foreign Relations has objected to include language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 that would shut out US textile firms from selling products to Department of Defense commissaries and exchange stores.
In a letter to Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Senator Corker expressed his strong concern regarding attempts to include language in the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Department of Defense’s defense commissary and exchange store system source garments only from suppliers that are signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (“Accord”).
The language in the amendment unjustifiably discriminates against US garment manufacturers and retailers in favor of European garment manufacturers and retailers, Mr. Corker said.
In response to recent disasters at Bangladeshi garment factories, in which many workers lost their lives, US and Canadian retailers, brands and manufacturers formed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (“Alliance”) to improve worker safety in Bangladesh, while the European companies formed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (“Accord”).
Both the “Alliance” and “Accord” are working to address the workers’ safety concerns in Bangladeshi garment factories. In fact, the “Alliance” reports they have made significant progress on inspecting factories, establishing programs for building remediation and worker displacement and providing assistance on fire and safety standards in Bangladesh, Senator Corker said in his letter.
“I would be concerned if any provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2014 contained language that would require preference for European companies over US companies, especially since it is our understanding that US companies have done as much or more on the ground to fix the safety and health problems in Bangladeshi garment factories,” the letter said.
At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in July, the Government, industry, and labor witnesses stressed the importance of developing a common approach to labor safety in Bangladesh. And, he would be concerned by any action by the US Government that would intentionally or unintentionally divide this effort by explicitly favoring the European sponsored “Accord” over the US-led “Alliance”, Mr. Corker said.
“Such an action would undermine current efforts by the Accord and Alliance to work together on the development of joint technical standards, training and inspection protocols, and undermine cooperation among the Government of Bangladesh, the US Government and European Governments,” the letter read.
Hence, the Senator has urged the Armed Services Committee to reject language that would favor European companies in the Accord at the expense of US companies in the Alliance.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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