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US suspends Bangladesh trade privileges

Lamia Begum joined relatives of workers killed at Rana Plaza in seeking compensation for their loss, months after the building collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,129 people.
Lamia Begum joined relatives of workers killed at Rana Plaza in seeking compensation for their loss, months after the building collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,129 people.ABIR ABDULLAH/EPA

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President Obama announced Thursday the suspension of US trade privileges for Bangladesh because of concerns about labor rights and worker safety that intensified after hundreds of people died in the global garment industry’s worst accident.

Obama said Bangladesh was not taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights to employees in the South Asian country.

US Trade Representative Mike Froman said the United States will, however, start new discussions with Bangladesh on improving workers’ conditions so the duty-free benefits that cover some 5,000 products can be restored. He did not say when that might be, noting it would depend on Bangladesh’s actions.

Thursday’s announcement was the culmination of a yearslong review. Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for the step since the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza killed 1,129 people.

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