Trade associations representing the U.S. and Canadian apparel and retail industry sent a letter April 7 to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh urging the Bangladesh government to immediately eliminate duties on imports of building and fire safety equipment.


The letter notes that high import duties – such as 61 percent on fire doors and 31 percent on sprinkler systems – discourage critical investment in improving worker safety in Bangladesh.



The letter is signed by the leaders of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, The Canadian Apparel Federation, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Council of Canada, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the U.S. Fashion Industry Association.



Improving building safety has become a major objective since the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh killed 1,100 garment workers in late 2012. Yet remediation efforts could costs tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per factory, according to the letter, which notes that Bangladesh duties and taxes can add 61 percent to the costs of a fire rated door and 31 percent to the cost of sprinkler systems.