The Bangladeshi government denounced as "shocking," a US decision to suspend trade privileges after a fatal factory collapse in the Asian country.
US President Barack Obama on June 27, cut off Bangladesh's duty-free trade privileges in response to what he called Dhaka government’s failure to protect workers’ rights, press tv reported.
"I have determined that it is appropriate to suspend Bangladesh ... because it is not taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights to workers in the country," he said in a statement.
However, Bangladeshi officials said Dhaka had enacted a series of reforms since the April 24 collapse of a garment factory complex which left more than 1,100 people dead.
The eight-story building of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Savar, an industrial suburb of Dhaka, collapsed a day after cracks had been detected in the building.
"It cannot be more shocking for the factory workers of Bangladesh that the decision ... comes at a time when the government of Bangladesh has taken concrete and visible measures to improve factory safety and protect workers' rights," the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that while Bangladesh respects its trading partner's decisions, "it expresses its deep concern that this harsh measure may bring in fresh obstacles in an otherwise flourishing bilateral trade".
The ministry also mentioned a series of reforms introduced since the April disaster to guarantee safety, including changes to labor laws and a deal with the International Labor Organization.
The duty-free trade privileges had been given to Bangladesh under a program known as Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that removes tariffs on imports from 127 countries to help their development.
Garment industry in Bangladesh makes up 80 percent of its exports annually, but the country has witnessed several deadly accidents, including a blaze in November 2012 that left over 100 people dead.