Export processing zones in Bangladesh: Economic impact and social issues (MULTI 80)

Multinational Enterprises Programme, Working Paper No. 81 . Examines the structural features and operational characteristics of the two EPZs, as well as their socio-economic consequences for the host country. The data analysed in this respect relate to the period covering the inception of the two EPZs, up to 1996 - Chittagong EPZ (1983 to 1996) and Dhaka EPZ (1993 to 1996).

The sharp increase in earnings from clothing exports from Bangladesh over the years is due largely to the development of export processing zones and special bonded warehouses. The Chittagong and Dhaka EPZs have also created direct employment for thousands. In December 1996 they had a combined workforce of 45,815. However, Bangladesh's EPZ development programme has raised concern in several quarters because zones are exempted from applying the national labour laws and trade unions are prohibited. This working paper responds to the interest expressed by the ILO's constituents through the Governing Body Subcommittee on Multinational Enterprises, for information on developments in this country's EPZs. The author highlights the economic importance of the zones and examines employment and working conditions in EPZ enterprises, where the situation is reported to be generally better than that which exists in local non-EPZ enterprises. In the absence of union representation, labour matters are handled by an Industrial