European, American retailers spar over safety in Bangladesh

A group dominated by European retailers is accusing U.S. counterparts of trying to join their efforts to boost factory safety in Bangladesh in name only, The New York Times reports.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh – which includes European outfits like H&M – has already made strong commitments to improve fire safety and make other upgrades, after a factory collapse in the country killed more than 1,000 this year.

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The U.S.-backed group – which includes Wal-Mart, Target, Gap and around two dozen other retailers – said it was surprised by criticism that it wasn't stepping up. The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has pledged to give low-cost loans to factory owners in Bangladesh to improve safety conditions.