Issue 468  | May 11, 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 55 factories in 14 countries:

 Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand, USA, and Vietnam


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Cape Town, South Africa


This Week's Headlines


Bangladesh
Bangladeshi representatives and a Thai delegation held a meeting to discuss boosting bilateral ties between the two countries. Currently, trade between the two countries amounts to US $800 million, but with this agreement, it could reach $2 billion by 2021. Because Thailand already offers duty free access to Bangladeshi products, the two parties are considering signing a free trade agreement. ( Fibre2Fashion)

AccordBased on the recommendation of the Transition Monitoring Committee (TMC), the government of Bangladesh has ruled in favor of extending the work of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord). The government established the TMC with the group members comprised of the Accord, global trade unions, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association (BGMEA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Bangladesh government. After the TMC's first meeting, they determined that the Accord had not met the criteria previously agreed upon, which is to vastly improve the workers safety via demonstrated proficiency in inspection capacity, remediation of hazards, enforcement of the law against non-compliant factories, full transparency of governance and remediation progress, and investigation and fair resolution of workers' safety complaints. ( Fibre2Fashion)

A recent report by quality control and supply chain auditor, AsiaInspection (AI), ethical performance scores in Bangladesh have risen by an average of 15% in the past 12 months. Despite the rising scores, the report also declared that factories are still in need of vast improvements in the health and safety of their workers. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Following the death of a textile mill worker, Rashedul Islam, about 2,000 apparel workers protested in streets of Savar, blocking the Dhaka-Aricha Highway for more than four hours. The workers claim that Islam was feeling ill and asked management for permission to leave work early, but his request was denied. As his condition deteriorated, the factory eventually rushed him to the hospital, where he ultimately passed away. Upon hearing the news, his colleagues began to protest in the streets and demanded the factory pay his family Tk 10 lakh (US $11,799). ( The Daily Star)

Cambodia
During the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Manila, the Cambodian Secretary of State Vongsey Vissoth told reporters that Cambodia could capitalize on the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China. American investors will begin to look elsewhere for their production needs, and this will present an opportunity to meet those demands. Vissoth said that Cambodia will work to reduce power and transportation costs and streamline trade procedures, in order to become more competitive. ( Fibre2Fashion)

China
ChinaChina and Nigeria recently signed a three-year agreement in Beijing agreeing to swap their currencies in order to decrease their dependency on third-party currency. This agreement will allow for faster transactions and currency liquidity for businesses. The agreement will also allow Nigerian companies to import spare parts and raw materials from China and in turn, will help Chinese manufacturers who are sourcing from Nigeria to obtain Nigerian currency (naira) from banks in China for payment. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Egypt
In the first quarter of 2018, Egypt's exports of ready-made garments (RMG) rose 17% year-on-year, with the United States accounting for approximately 48% of their exports. The Ready Made Garments Export Council is hoping for a 20% jump in exports, amounting to US $1.8 billion for the year. The President of the Export Board noted that the biggest challenges to reaching the target are international competition and a lack of domestic work force. The competition includes Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. The Export Board also remarked on the need to expand technical and vocational trainings in order to fill the shortage of skilled employees. ( Just Style)
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India
IndiaThe Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) is planning on releasing a Code of Conduct for their migrant workers. They hope that by being proactive in the creation of the Code, their direct recruitment of migrants from other states can be done within the legal and social requirements. The Tamil Nadu region accounts for a majority of production and has experienced labor shortages in recent years. In response, there is a high number of migrant workers seeking employment in the area. Textile mills face challenges with sourcing and retaining migrant workers for a reasonable period and these codes could alleviate the problems. ( Fibre2Fashion)

Myanmar
MyanmarLabor activists are criticizing the current government for its failure to institute the labor reforms it promised during its campaign two years ago. According to the activists, the party announced a 9-point agenda which included more jobs, workplace safety, fair pay, and an end to child labor. The critics say that no firm policies have been enacted since that time. ( Myanmar Times)

South Africa
The South African Mohair Industry is responding to claims made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that farmers were mistreating their goats by denying them but saying it would still investigate. According to the Industry, they have taken necessary steps to ensure sustainable production practices which include third party audits. The claims from PETA led to several brands like Gap Inc., H&M, and Inditex to ban the use of mohair products within their supply chain. ( Sourcing Journal)
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Switzerland
Switzerland41 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have issued a joint statement expressing their concern about current escalating global trade disputes. The letter was delivered at a General Council meeting with the members calling on various governments to resolve their differences through dialog and cooperation, potentially using the WTO as a conduit of resolution. Some co-sponsors of the letter include Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Myanmar. ( Just Style)
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Turkey
A new joint initiative is being launched by Uzbekistan and Turkey. The two parties will create a wholesale trade center for textile products and knitted garments called Textilkent. Preliminary agreements were made during Turkish President Erdogan's recent visit to Uzbekistan. During the visit, Turkish and Uzbek companies had the opportunities to discuss potential for collaboration and trade. By 2017, trade between the two countries reached US $1.5 billion, with Uzbekistan exporting textile products to Turkey worth more than $109.5 million. ( Fibre2Fashion)

United States
According to the most recent Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, total imports were down 8.6% in March compared to the previous month. However, imports at major US retail container ports are forecast to grow throughout the summer. The forecast for July and August could set new records for number of import for their respective months. For the first half of this year, imports are expected to increase by 5.8% compared to the first half of 2017. ( Just Style)
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According to a report released by AT Kearney and prepared for the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and the Food Marketing Institute, the cost to US retailers and consumers could reach up to US $16 billion if the United States withdraws from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It could also result in the loss of 128,000 retail-related jobs over the next three years. The study discussed how a withdrawal would cause import tariffs to reach $5.3 billion, which would trickle down to consumers through increased costs of products. ( Just Style)
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Vietnam
According to statistics from the Labour Safety Department of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, there were 928 workplace related deaths in  Vietnam in 2017. The number of workplace accidents in 2017 increased by 1% compared to the previous year but workplace deaths fell by 6%. Many of the accidents and deaths are attributed to a lack of employee and management safety knowledge, poor safety equipment, and overall violations of labor safety. ( DTI News)

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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