DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh said it has met the conditions put forward by the United States for better safety and workers’ rights in its factories that were essential to regain preferential trade status.

The South Asian nation lost its status in 2013 after two disasters killed 1,500 garment workers.

The preferential trade status does not cover Bangladesh’s influential garment industry, which helps the country earn $25 billion annually and mainly exports to the United States and Europe. But Dhaka has long lobbied for its garment industry to have duty-free access to the U.S., and the lost status was seen as a blow to that goal.

The government said in its statement late Tuesday that all of the 16 conditions have been met. It has so far shut down some 364 apparel units for lack of sufficient safety measures. It has amended labor laws, enacted new rules for allowing workers to form unions, increased the number of factory inspectors and settled many criminal cases against trade union leaders who said the charges were meant to silence them.

A delegation of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office praised the progress but also found shortcomings. The delegation is visiting Bangladesh to review improvements and changes to legal documents allowing for wider workers’ rights.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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