After a factory collapse killed 1,129 workers in Bangladesh in April, pressures increased on major brands worldwide to actively engage in more ethical labor practices. Now, The New York Times reports that the Obama administration will suspend the special privileges afforded to Bangladesh over concerns about conditions and rights violations in the country's expansive garment industry.
An official announcement will come later today, and until then, representatives have declined to comment. But this is actually in response to pressures that have been mounting since 2007. For years, Bangladesh — a major manufacturer for many international companies — has been one of 125 countries that is allowed to export some 5,000 products, duty-free, to the U.S. in the interest of promoting economic growth. Today, Americans purchase about 25% of the $18 million worth of annual clothing exports. An unnamed labor-rights advocate familiar with the upcoming announcement said trade privileges will be restored if Bangladesh can adhere to a road map that, presumably, lays out achievable but notable shifts in the country's labor practices. Stay tuned for more updates as news continues to break throughout the day. (The New York Times)