Visit to Asia

Minister Müller's visit to Bangladesh and India to focus on working conditions in textiles sector and fighting child labour

Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller during his talks with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina

Press release of 24.02.2020 |

BERLIN – Development Minister Gerd Müller left today on a visit to Bangladesh and India. His visit will focus on working conditions within global delivery chains, in particular in the textiles sector, on fighting child labour on the Indian sub-continent and on the plight of the Rohingya refugees.

Before departing, Development Minister Gerd Müller said: "Human rights are indivisible. And yet 150 million children worldwide are still having to work – sometimes under exploitative conditions. Millions of people are working in jobs that offer neither occupational safety nor living wages. Seventy-five million people work in the textiles industry – often under abysmal conditions. The tragic Rana Plaza disaster, in which 1,136 people died, highlighted these appalling conditions. Greater consumption in our part of the world mustn't be at the expense of workers' human rights in other parts of the world. We need to bring justice to globalisation. That is why we have introduced the Green Button as the first publicly endorsed certification mark. The Green Button is to help consumers in Germany to choose trousers, rucksacks or T-shirts, for example, that have been produced in compliance with social and environmental standards."

Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller visiting the Royal Footwear Ltd. shoe factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 25 February 2020

Bangladesh is the world's second biggest producer of textiles, and its largest customer for such goods is Germany. Minister Müller will visit two textiles factories in Bangladesh, one of which has adopted the standards prescribed by the publicly endorsed "Green Button" mark. Germany's development ministry is also supporting the Government of Bangladesh in its efforts to improve and enforce its legislation regarding building safety and occupational safety, and is assisting Bangladeshi textiles factories in their efforts to improve production conditions. In addition, the legal minimum wage in the textiles sector has been successfully raised to 95 US dollars per month (compared with Ethiopia, where it is 26 US dollars per month).

While in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, Minister Müller will meet for talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Abdul Momen.

Another important topic during the visit to Bangladesh will be the situation of the Rohingya refugees: one million Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The majority of them live in the Kutupalong refugee camp – one of the largest in the world. Many of the refugees are traumatised. Commenting on the situation, Minister Müller said, "The plight of the Rohingya refugees is turning into one of world's greatest tragedies – second only to that of the Syrian refugees. Myanmar must do all it can to protect the Rohingya and to facilitate their voluntary return. And the international community must act much more decisively in this matter, and take a greater interest in the Rohingya's fate. Germany will use its development policy tools to step up its support for the Rohingya refugees and the communities hosting them."

Following his visit to Bangladesh, Development Minister Müller will travel on to India. India is the world's third largest economy and, in a few years' time, will be its most populous country. However, despite the country's economic performance, some 175 million people there still live in extreme poverty.

"India is one of our global partners – and has a vital role to play with regard to stability, global climate protection and worldwide food and nutrition security. However, the country's growing prosperity only reaches some and not others. Although India has sent a space probe to the moon, ten million of the country's children are still having to work for their living. And often these children are labouring for the benefit of us Europeans, for example by carving gravestones or weaving carpets for us. But children should be going to school. That is why we are working with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi to ensure that these children have a real chance in life," said Minister Müller.

To get a picture of the situation, Minister Müller will visit rice and tea plantations as well as a stone quarry in the State of Assam. In the capital New Delhi, he will accompany Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on a visit to a shelter for physically abused children.

Before leaving India, Minister Müller will meet with Prime Minister Modi and Energy Minister Kumar Singh in order to discuss how the use of renewable energies in India can be expanded.

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