Issue 401 | January 6, 2017
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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
Happy New Year! We hope 2017 is a fruitful and productive year for all!

As of the sending of this newsletter, there are 2,309 factories with current WRAP certificates around the world employing 2,078,837 workers.
This Week's Headlines
Upcoming Events

January 24-27, 2017
Orlando, Florida, USA


Bangladesh
The U.S. State Department has issued an elevated travel advisory for Bangladesh. In a notice released on January 5, the State Department warns U.S. citizens of "continuing threats from terrorist groups" in the country and notes that only employed adult family members of U.S. government personnel are allowed to remain in Dhaka. The embassy does remain open however and will continue to provide all consular services.

bangladeshAuthorities in Bangladesh say that upwards of 1,500 workers have been dismissed following a massive protest over pay that forced dozens of factories to close. Police say the protests were illegal and have arrested 30 workers, including 7 union leaders, as well as a television reporter covering the event. All of the affected factories have also resumed operations. ( AlJazeera)

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says that it is important for the country to diversify its portfolio of export markets instead of relying on merely a handful of traditional markets. Speaking at the opening of the Dhaka International Trade Fair, Hasina also noted that the country should also focus on diversifying its export products so as not to rely on a single category. Hasina observed that no other country in the world can deliver products as fast as Bangladesh and that it is important to keep focusing on quality and safety. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Next month's edition of the Dhaka Apparel Summit will focus on helping Bangladesh to achieve its US$50 billion export target by 2021. The summit will bring together a variety of stakeholders in the country's garment industry to talk about safety, productivity, and a host of other issues facing the readymade garment industry. 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. ( Fibre2Fashion)  

Bangladesh's Finance Minister Abdul Muhith has assured garment exporters that their proposal for an additional 5% cash incentive will get favorable consideration by the government, bringing the total incentive to 10%. The proposal was made by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) as well as the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA). ( Fibre2Fashion)

Cambodia
Over 100 workers at a Phnom Penh garment factory protested on January 3 demanding that a colleague who was reportedly fired last month for attempting to form a union be reinstated. Local union representatives say the workers were pushing to form a union to help them address grievances they had with the factory and that their leader was unjustly fired. So far, factory managers have not commented on the incident. ( Phnom Penh Post)

China
chinaChina has launched a new direct freight train service to London, creating one of the longest rail routes in the world. The first train departed from Zhejiang Province on January 1 and is expected to complete the 12,000 km journey through 7 countries in 18 days. The China Railway Corporation hopes the new service will help bolster trade ties no only with Britain, but with the rest of Western Europe. ( Xinhua News)

India
A new report from the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) says that various forms of slavery, including child slavery, are present in 90% of southern India's spinning mills. The group says that many workers in the region are often forced to work long hours and frequently have their pay withheld. The Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association disputes the findings of the report, saying that the issues highlighted in the research are not as prevalent as suggested. ( Reuters)

The government of India has launched a new telephone helpline for handloom workers. Government leaders say that the helpline will provide expert guidance to handloom operators anywhere in the country. India's Textile Minister Smriti Irani praised the launch of the helpline, calling it a great mix of "technology, youth, and tradition." ( Fibre2Fashion)

indiaIndia's Textile Ministry says it will host an "Investors Summit" later this month focused on the northeast region of the country. In a press release, the government notes that the summit will aim to showcase the region as a "global destination for investment" and explore opportunities for local agencies to work together to attract new funds to the region. Government officials say the region's plentiful supply of skilled labor and raw materials make it ripe for significant growth. ( Fibre2Fashion / Indian Government)

Myanmar
Exports from Myanmar's cutting, making, and packing (CMP) garment industry nearly doubled year-on-year last month. At 33%, Japan accounted for the largest share of exports, followed by South Korea and Germany. The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) also says that most of the investments it has permitted for the current fiscal year will be going to the garment industry. ( Fibre2Fashion)

myanmarGlobal fashion giant H&M recently hosted a conference in Myanmar to discuss ways to maintain industry stability through improving labor relations. The first "Fair & Equal" event brought together global stakeholders representing brands, buyers, factories, and workers who noted that while progress on labor rights in Myanmar has indeed been commendable, the pace of this progress needs to intensify in order to secure more "mature labor relations" in the country. ( Just Style) *NOTICE: This article requires a paid subscription

Pakistan
pakistanAn accomplice involved in the 2012 Ali Enterprises fire revealed the details of how the fire was started in a new confessional statement. Ghulam Ali, also known as "Goli," noted that plans to set the factory on fire were made in the Baldia Town office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). He said that after finalizing plans in the office, he and other MQM members made their way to the factory, locked the gates behind them after entering, and started the fire with chemicals. Over 250 workers in the building were killed. ( The News International

Thousands of people affected by the 2012 Ali Enterprises fire recently staged a protest against a proposal to disburse compensation through the workers' social security and pension schemes, which they see as corrupt. The protesters say that the US$5 million fund given by German retailer KiK should be disbursed through the Sindh High Court to make the process efficient and trustworthy. KiK agreed to make the payments in September of last year. ( Express Tribune)

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) says that high business costs continued to take a toll on textile exports last year. APTMA Chairman Aamir Fayyaz noted that textile exports dropped by over US$600 million last year while overall exports dropped by over US$1 billion. Fayyaz notes that the trend can only be reversed with proactive trade policies from the government. ( Fibre2Fashion)

United Kingdom
New research from British risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft says that the risk of Syrian cotton grown by the Islamic State (IS) entering the supply chains of European fashion brands is low. The study found that while IS controls nearly 75% of the land normally used for cotton production in Syria, robust quality control mechanisms in European supply chains should keep most of this cotton out. The company also says that most of the cotton produced in Syria actually never leaves the country. ( Just Style) *NOTICE: This article requires a paid subscription

United States
usaAnalysts say that several recent nominees for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's trade team indicate that he intends to make good on his campaign promise to put American manufacturing first. These include attorney Robert Lighthizer for U.S. Trade Representative, who has repeatedly criticized China for allegedly rigging world trade in its favor, and investment banker Wilbur Ross who co-authored a report claiming the world was riddled with "trade cheaters." Several of Trump's nominees must first be confirmed by the Senate before taking office. ( Bloomberg)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering imposing a tariff as high as 10% on imports in an effort to boost U.S. manufacturing. While the move would bolster his campaign promise to put American manufacturing first, some worry that the move could also spark a trade war with countries like China. Trump has also repeatedly vowed to do away with several trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada. ( CNN)

The United States has expanded the range of Nepalese textile products that can enter the country duty-free. This comes after U.S. President Barack Obama signed a trade preference program last month that will allow duty-free access for items like shawls, scarves, and travel goods produced in Nepal. The deal is good for 10 years and is aimed at bolstering the country's economic recovery. ( 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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