US will still withhold Bangladesh trade benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government says Bangladesh has not made sufficient progress on improving labor standards to justify reinstatement of duty-free trade benefits suspended after the global textile industry's worst disaster.

Washington suspended the benefits last June, two months after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka that killed hundreds.

Senior Labor Department official Eric Biel said that late last month, the U.S. conveyed to Bangladesh that despite progress in some areas, it had not done enough under an action plan laid out by Washington.

Biel was speaking Tuesday at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing examining the political instability in Bangladesh and workers' rights.

Among those providing testifiying is Reba Siker, who was pulled from the rubble of the Rana Plaza after being trapped for two days.

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