Issue 397 | December 2, 2016
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The WRAP Blog
by: Russell Jowell

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

The WRAP Up
Last week we certified 21 factories in 7 countries:
Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Guatemala, Thailand, and Vietnam.

As of the sending of this newsletter, there are 2,333 factories with current WRAP certificates around the world employing 2,127,372 workers.
This Week's Headlines
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January 24-27, 2017
Orlando, Florida, USA


Bangladesh
bangladeshBangladesh's government and its readymade garment industry need to ensure that the rights of all workers, including the right to freely associate and collectively bargain, are protected, according to U.S. ambassador Marcia Bernicat. During a recent conference on the state of fire safety in the country, Bernicat praised the progress that has been made in building and fire safety in recent years and urged the country to continue its progress. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Bangladesh must focus on increasing efficiency and pushing out more value-added products if it hopes to achieve its goal of US$50 billion in exports by 2021, according to Atiqul Islam, the former head of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Speaking at the launch of a new printing and color plant in Dhaka, Islam noted that all industries, including dyeing and printing, will need to work to modernize to help the country reach its goal. ( Observer BD)

Leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) recently sat down with Sourcing Journal to talk about the state of the industry and its struggles and successes. BGMEA leaders noted that while significant progress has been made in terms of fire and building safety, many units are still struggling to come up with the financial means to implement the needed safety improvements. They also cited the need for the government to push to improve roads and infrastructure in the country as goods are often delayed when making their way from the factories to port. They also reiterated the country's push to reach US$50 billion in garment exports by 2021.
( Sourcing Journal) *NOTICE: This article requires a free subscription

Cambodia
cambodiaLabor leaders in Cambodia are expressing concern about language in the proposed 2017 minimum wage law. Specifically, they are concerned about a line in the proposed policy which prohibits any group from "creating obstacles or putting illegal pressure" on future minimum wage discussions. They say that the law does not clearly define "obstacles" or "illegal pressure" leaving some to worry that interpretation of the law could be abused. ( Phnom Penh Post)

Labor leaders in Cambodia are pushing the government to ratify international labor standards that would safeguard paid maternity leave and other working conditions for women workers in the country. Dozens of members of the Women's Union Network gathered outside  the ministries of labor and women's affairs recently uring the govenrment to endorse the relavent conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Most of Cambodia's factory workers are women. ( Cambodia Daily)

The final pension phase of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) will be finalized and implemented next year, according to Cambodia's Labor Ministry. Initially launched in 2007, the NSSF was set up to provide health and injury insurance as well as pension plans to workers, and while the latter two elements have been active for some time, this announcement will mark the conclusion of NSSF implementation. Workers will be able to draw from their pensions after reaching 63 years of age and making 20 years of contributions. ( Phnom Penh Post)

Ethiopia
ethiopiaThe Bagir Group has become the first company to manufacture and export tailored garments from Ethiopia. The company recently completed and shipped a test order for H&M to the United States and executives say Ethiopia is set to become "increasingly important" to the company's overall manufacturing base thanks to its ability to produce "top garments for less." The factory is currently producing about 600 pairs of trousers per day with plans to increase that to 3,000 per day in the next 18 months. ( Just Style  *NOTICE: This article requires a paid subscription

India
indiaThe recent decline in value of the Indian rupee may be positive for garment exports, according to several industry insiders who also warn that these benefits may be short lived. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, the head of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations says that the value of the rupee usually takes a slight dip at the end of the year and coupled with a rise in value of the U.S. dollar, Indian garment exports could be in for a brief boost. Analysts also warn that declining currency values in other major export markets could negatively affect global sales. ( Fibre2Fashion)

The Tirupur Exporters' Association (TEA) is pushing for India's government to provide research and development centers, incubation centers, and design studios for high-performing textile clusters in the country. TEA officials say the move could help the textile industry explore new niche segments that could help them grow overall sales. The group is also pushing the government to implement the new Factories Bill that was passed this year to help facilities meet compliance demands. ( Fibre2Fashion)

India's Power Ministry is considering a proposal to offer more competitive energy rates to the country's powerloom industry in an effort to boost competitiveness. The proposal was presented to Textiles Minister Smriti Irani by Power Minister Piyush Goyal in a recent meeting between the two. The proposal will now be presented to several states for consideration and input. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Macedonia
Authorities in Macedonia are investigating the vandalism of a building used by a group advocating for the rights of garment workers in the country. Police say the building in the city of Stip, used by a group called "Loud-The Silent Majortiy," was subject to stoning on November 26 and the building's sign was also damaged in the incident. The incident comes amid heightened tensions ahead of the country's elections on December 11. ( Global Voices)

Myanmar
A new report published by a labor activist group in Myanmar says that the country still lags behind in terms of rights and protections for its garment workers. The report, published by "Progressive Voice Myanmar," is based on interviews with 199 mostly female workers and says that global economic pressures have pushed out many efforts to enforce labor laws and ensure workers rights are secured. ( Progressive Voice / The Nation

United Kingdom
British fashion advocacy group TRAID has released a new film series looking at working conditions of garment workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The series followed 50 workers who were given tools to document their daily lives at work and at home. The group says it hopes to use the films to hold brands more accountable for the well-being of the workers making their products. ( Just Style*NOTICE: This article requires a paid subscription

United States
usaA growing number of economic experts in the United States say that many of the same forces that caused U.S. companies to move manufacturing offshore may now be helping to bring manufacturing jobs back. A growing number of Chinese companies have recently been investing in the United States in an effort to escape high business costs in their own country and to be closer to end consumers. Many companies are actually looking to locate in the center of the country due to its geographic proximity to many American consumers. ( CNN)

U.S. apparel imports dropped by nearly 11% in September, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, following a greater trend of an overall decline in goods and services imports. Many U.S. brands and retailers say that they entered the year cautiously as they sought ways to counter declining sales. China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh are the top providers of U.S. imported apparel, accounting for nearly half of purchases. ( Sourcing Journal)
*NOTICE: This article requires a free subscription
About WRAP
Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, USA, with regional offices in Hong Kong, SAR, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, full-time staff in India and Southeast Asia (Thailand and Vietnam), 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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