Issue 466  | April 27, 2018
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The WRAP Blog
By:
Darlene Ugwa

Welcome to The WRAP Weekly newsletter.  Feel free to look around and thank you for being a loyal reader.


The WRAP Up
This week, we certified 36 factories in 8 countries:

 Bangladesh, China, India, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam


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This Week's Headlines


Bangladesh
RanaPlazaOn the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) announced the creation of a joint venture that will have brands, factory owners, and the government share responsibility for continual worker safety via inspections, monitoring, worker trainings and helpline services. An Alliance press release addressed not just the anniversary and the near completion of the Alliance program, but also acknowledged that the factories have not reached "the finish line" pertaining to worker safety and factory remediation. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Workers from the Abbas Apparel Garments factory are protesting in front of their factory in Arapara, demanding unpaid salaries. Nearly 600 workers claim the factory's management have not paid them for the last three months and although authorities were scheduled to arrive and pay them last Thursday, they never showed up. ( UNB)

Cambodia
CambodiaOn April 22, the United States reinstated Cambodia's status under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, allowing their exports duty free access to the US market. Because the reinstatement is retroactive, it will allow refunds to be claimed for transactions that took place since January 1. Cambodia is one of 120 beneficiary countries in the program. ( Fibre2Fashion)

98 former workers of the Co-Seek Garment Co, Ltd. factory are still appealing to a judge for help in settling a wage payment dispute. The workers are demanding wages owed to them after their employers fled the country, leaving them without work or pay. A Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge recently awarded the workers US $7,000 out of $35,000 in expected proceeds from the sale of the factory's equipment; the remainder of the money will go to the landlords of the factory. ( Phnom Penh Post)

China
AlibabaChinese global retail and e-commerce conglomerate, Alibaba, is gaining a stronger foothold in Thailand. The company is creating a digital hub that will develop capabilities in e-commerce, digital logistics, tourism, and training in the country. The partnership will give Thailand access to technologies and processes which will help to advance the country. The hub will be located in Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and will work to streamline trade between Thailand and other markets, including China. ( Fibre2Fashion)

European Union
EUThe European Union and Mexico have agreed on a modernized upgrade to their 15-year old free trade deal. Under this new agreement, almost all goods between the two parties will be duty-free. This agreement will also offer more simple customs procedures, will include progressive rules on sustainable development and will address corruption in the private and public sectors. In addition to this agreement with Mexico, the EU also made progress on a trade deal with Singapore. Negotiations about free trade and investment protection recently ended, which will lead to the eventual signing of the agreement; it will remove virtually all customs duties and overlapping bureaucracy. (Just Style Mexico/ Singapore)
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India
IndiaWithin the next six months, India will unveil a new framework for their national e-commerce policies that will address competition regulation, data privacy, taxation, and technical issues facing the industry. The government will set up a taskforce to finalize the policy. The decision to create this task force came from a think tank that comprises of officials from various companies and ministries including the ministries of commerce, finance, home affairs, corporate affairs and information technology. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 28 reported factory fire-related deaths in Delhi. This past week, a fire broke out in a jeans factory, resulting in the deaths of two employees who were working overtime. Police suspect a spark from a short circuit to be the cause of the fire. ( News Click)

Pakistan
According to a representative from the Embassy of Germany in Pakistan, a delegation of German traders will visit Pakistan to explore business opportunities for investments. These types of venture should reinforce existing bilateral trade agreements; Pakistani textile exports to Germany continue on an upward trend since receiving the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) plus status. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Sweden
Swedish fashion retailer H&M claims that 450,000 of their textile workers from 227 factories are now democratically represented; this number accounts for over 50% of their workforce. These elections fall within the new Workplace Dialogue program which also includes management training, training films on workers' rights and responsibilities, and more in-depth training for the representatives. The purpose of the elected representatives is to bridge a gap between the workers and factory management. The reps will speak on behalf of the workers on issues like working conditions. ( Just Style)
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United Kingdom
A survey conducted by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) is seeking anonymous feedback on what garment sector companies really think about the Modern Day Slavery Act. The act was instituted in the UK in 2015 and requires all companies operating in the UK with a profit of at least GBP 36 million (US $52 million) to produce an annual statement discussing what they have accomplished in the mission to eradicate modern day slavery and human trafficking. FLEX hopes the survey will reveal what companies really believe are effective methods to combat this issue. ( Just Style)
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United States
The World Bank has stated in its draft of the 2019 "World Development Report" that employers in developing countries should have more flexibility with regards to choosing to pay the minimum wage to their workers and in the hiring and firing of their employees. These suggestions were made in order to keep human capital competitive against the rising number of machines that could easily replace them. The full report is expected to push for policy action from global governments in these matters. ( Just Style)
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During the 'Supply Chain Innovation: The Key to Success in the New Retail Dynamic' conference in Washington, D.C., the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would allow the two entities to collaborate on industry related issues. ( Just Style)
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Market research firm, YouGov in collaboration with software provider, Infor surveyed over 5,000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany about consumer opinion on the supply chain. 78% of respondents identified estimated time of arrival (ETA) and real-time location information as being the most important aspects while waiting for a purchase to be delivered. The survey also showed that consumers are willing to switch brands if their supply chain does not keep up with their expectations, especially within the fashion and footwear categories. ( Just Style)
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Vietnam-Singapore
At the Vietnam-Singapore Business Forum 2018, Vietnam's Prime Minister discussed the country's exponential growth over the past year and their future collaborations with Singapore. Since their five-year strategic partnership began, Singapore has invested over US $43 billion in projects in Vietnam and in turn, Vietnam has invested over $235 million. The PM also discussed more opportunities for investors  to reach the Vietnamese population due to increasing technological literacy of the people. By the conclusion of the conference, 16 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) were signed between the two countries. ( VN Express)

About WRAP
Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, USA, with regional offices in Hong Kong, SAR, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, full-time staff in Europe, India and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia), and for Latin America, WRAP is an independent, objective, non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane, and ethical manufacturing around the world through certification and education. To learn more about WRAP, please visit  www.wrapcompliance.org .

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