Issue 404 | January 27, 2017
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The WRAP Blog

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 59 factories in 13 countries:
Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

As of the sending of this newsletter, there are 2,336 factories with current WRAP certificates around the world employing 2,122,550 workers.

WRAP's Hong Kong office will be closed from Monday, January 30 to Monday, February 6 in observance of the New Year.
This Week's Headlines
Bangladesh
Bangladesh's total export earnings are expected to exceed US$60 billion over the next 5 years, according to the country's Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed. Speaking at a recent trade show in Dhaka, Ahmed noted that garments and accessories would continue to be the main drivers of export growth in the country, accounting for around 82% of exports. ( Just Style*NOTICE: This article requires a paid subscription

bangladeshThe Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety says that it has seen "tremendous progress" in Bangladesh's garment industry as it moves into the penultimate year of its original 5-year mandate. Speaking during the group's quarterly conference call, Country Director Jim Moriarty said that while challenges still exist, including the growing threat of terrorist activity, the atmosphere in Dhaka has seen an incredible boost. Moriarty also noted that nearly 70% of all remediation work has been completed. ( Just Style) *NOTICE: This article requires a paid subscription

Tannery workers are demanding the immediate implementation of a bilateral pact they signed with owners last year to ensure job security. During a recent rally in Hazaribagh, an area with a high concentration of such facilities, workers groups also demanded that tannery facilities establish sufficient worker facilities like sleeping quarters and health offices. ( New Age BD)

Cambodia
At least 25 workers were injured on January 23 after the truck transporting them overturned. Authorities say that the truck was speeding as it attempted to pass another vehicle in front of it and lost control. The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) noted that it was providing assistance to those injured. ( Phnom Penh Post)

A group of 80 garment workers staged a protest outside of the Kandal Provincial Court on January 23 demanding they release funds to pay back wages owed after their factory closed last year. A lawyer representing the workers noted that the company had made the required US$169,000 payment to the court for the purpose of paying back wages and urged the court to process the payments to the workers promptly. The factory was shuttered back in August of 2016. ( Cambodia Daily)

Phnom Penh recently hosted an exhibition and conference for a visiting delegation of Bangladeshi garment managers and leaders aimed at helping the Cambodian industry to further develop. While trade between the two countries is relatively low at just US$6.7 million per year, both nations hope that number can grow through cooperation. ( Fibre2Fashion)

France
French luxury products company Kering has announced a new phase of its sustainability strategy. In a statement, the company says that the new phase will focus on creating a "low-carbon economy" and work to reshape the luxury goods market to operate within "planetary boundaries." The company's CEO notes that sustainability can "redefine business value and drive future growth." ( Sustainable Brands /  Kering)

India
indiaIndia's decision last year to retract its Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 banknotes continues to have negative ripple effects on the country's textile industry. Leaders in the city of Bhiwandi, which was home to over 15% of India's 6.1 million powerlooms, say that the decision has forced all but 20% of their local production facilities to shut down. They say that the city was already facing stiff international competition from places like Bangladesh and Vietnam, and that the currency move has made business prohibitively difficult for many facilities who primarily relied on cash to make transactions. ( Hindustan Times)

A new report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) says that the country's textile industry could generate upwards of 50 million new jobs by 2025 if its growth continues as projected. The report also says that textiles could add US$300 billion in economic impact in that same period. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Myanmar
Over 20 workers at a Myanmar garment factory say they were forcibly terminated earlier this month after they attempted to establish a union in the facility. While the factory claims the workers were terminated due to a decline in production, the workers note that only those involved in the union process were let go. The workers say they have reported the incident to local authorities for further investigation. ( Myanmar Times)

Workers at a Myanmar garment factory are pushing for government intervention after they say their managers made changes to their employment handbook that were not discussed or negotiated with them. The dispute has been ongoing since June of last year when over 600 workers staged a sit-in alleging that the managers had slashed their pay and forced them to work weekends. While resolution talks did take place in November of last year, they proved to be unsuccessful. ( Myanmar Times)

United Kingdom
ukA new undercover film alleges that some British garment factories have been paying their workers less than half of the country's minimum wage. The film, produced by Channel 4, claims that textile companies producing for high street brands like River Island and New Look were paying workers as little as £3 (US$3.70) an hour when the legal minimum wage for workers over the age of 25 stands at £7.20 (US$9.00). ( The Guardian)


United States
usaU.S. President Donald Trump is considering a 20% tax on imports from Mexico to fund a proposed border wall that was the centerpiece of his campaign. While the ideal has received sharp criticism from business leaders on both sides of the border, Trump's Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted that the proposal was merely one of several options they were floating to fund the wall. Trump has signed an executive action ordering the construction process for the wall to begin. ( CNN)

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) says that the recent decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to pull the country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could cost American footwear consumers over US$500 million. FDRA President Matt Priest said that the 12 nation agreement included major markets for the U.S. footwear industry and would have saved consumers significant amounts of money. Priest says the FDRA will continue to work with President Trump as he pursues individual trade deals with the TPP nations as promised.
( FDRA / Just Style) *NOTICE: Just Style article requires a paid subscription

U.S.-based retailer Target has announced a major new effort aimed at eliminating unwanted chemicals in its products. The company says their goal with the new effort is to be "transparent, proactive, and innovative when it comes to managing chemicals and, where necessary, developing alternatives." The company hopes to complete adoption of the new program by 2022. ( Bloomberg)

L Brands, owner of brands like Victoria's Secret and La Senza, has announced a new effort aimed at tracing the source of wood-based fabrics used in its products to eliminate the use of destructive products and those acquired in inhumane conditions. In a statement on its website, the company says that the goal is to "reduce threats to ancient and endangered forests and to avoid products that contribute to deforestation or human rights abuses." The company says it worked with the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to develop the program's guidelines. ( L Brands / Just Style)
*NOTICE: Just Style article requires a paid subscription

The city of Nashville, Tennessee is poised to become a major player in the U.S. fashion industry, according to the Nashville Fashion Alliance (NFA). The group says that a recent economic survey it conducted indicated that the city's fashion industry could have an economic impact of over US$9 billion and create 25,000 jobs by 2025. NFA says that the city boasts the highest per-capita concentration of fashion companies outside of New York City and Los Angeles. ( Business Wire)

The Walmart Foundation has selected 6 universities to receive grants totaling nearly US$3 million to advance innovations in textile manufacturing. Specifically, the grants are aimed at making U.S. textile manufacturing more feasible, sustainable, and competitive with other countries like China. The foundation has provided more than US$10 million in funding since launching the effort in 2014. ( Textile World)

Vietnam
vietnamLabor leaders in Vietnam are voicing concern over a recent proposal to reject the maternity benefits of female workers in the country. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA) says that it is preparing a draft proposal cancelling an existing provision that gives mothers of babies under 1 years of age an hour off during the workday to breastfeed and a half-hour break during menstruation. Government leaders allege the policy increases production costs for facilities and is too burdensome for managers to implement. ( Vietnam News)
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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