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"The 14 beneficiary countries, as well as EU and international institutions and civil society organisations, will now have an opportunity to respond to the findings of the report. The first report on the concrete effects of the GSP+, the EU trade policy instrument published by the European Commission and the EU High Representative to encourage third countries to comply with core international  standards in the areas of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance has been released."

 

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The 14 beneficiary countries, as well as EU and international institutions and civil society organisations, will now have an opportunity to respond to the findings of the report. The first report on the concrete effects of the GSP+, the EU trade policy instrument published by the European Commission and the EU High Representative to encourage third countries to comply with core international standards in the areas of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance has been released.

Compliance assessment for beneficiary nations

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The countries involved pay no duties when exporting a range of products to the EU through this system, which builds on the existing Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). In return, they must have ratified 27 core international conventions – including the United Nations (UN) conventions on human rights and the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on labour rights – and agree to cooperate in monitoring their implementation. This report provides the first compliance assessment.

According to Federica Mogherini, High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, development is deeply linked not only to economic growth but also to social improvements. That is why the EU is working, together with the 14 countries involved in the GSP+, to improve the situation on human rights, with a particular focus on labour rights, social justice, environmental protection and good governance. The 14 countries have shown political and institutional engagement, which needs to be followed up also by implementation. “We have not fully achieved all the goals yet. Making a difference on the ground is what counts and this will be at the heart of the EU's monitoring and dialogue during the next 2-year reporting period,”says Mogherini.

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade stated that they have done much work over the past two years, engaging with vulnerable countries who asked for enhanced access to the EU market. All 14 countries that benefit from this arrangement have made significant efforts to improve the situation as regards human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance. However, the situation is far from perfect. Progress is slow, as this report clearly shows; but with this report, the EU identified shortcomings, which equips us with better knowledge and tools to make improvements in the years to come. We will now continue with our dialogue and cooperation to make sure that the countries continue to implement the 27 conventions.

The 14 countries covered in the report are: Armenia, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Mongolia, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the Philippines.

As per the report, all 14 GSP+ beneficiary countries demonstrated progress. They strengthened their domestic institutions responsible for an effective implementation of the 27 key international conventions, improved relations with the international bodies – including various UN agencies – responsible for monitoring of the conventions' implementation, and upgraded their reporting activities. These are significant steps paving the way towards further practical changes. In areas where progress has been slower, the EU will engage in dialogue with these countries in order to find ways of speeding up the process.

Intensive contacts between the GSP+ countries, the European Commission and the EEAS have allowed for a detailed assessment of each country's progress, as well as of the main challenges and working priorities for the coming years.

Azerbaijan is keen to support cotton producers and give a new life to the cotton production industry. In this regard, farmers will be given preferential loans. Favorable prices will be considered for agricultural producers. New technologies, minerals, and varieties are being developed to lower the cost of cotton production. Farmers will be assisted while purchasing seeds, fertilizers and for conducting agro-technical works.

Cotton production is traditionally widespread in the country's Saatli, Sabirabad, Beylagan, Barda and Zardab regions. Azerbaijan was famous for a high production of cotton in the last century and was even a leading cotton producer in the Soviet Union. However, over the past 18 years, production has dipped six-fold. As a result, areas grown under cotton have reduced nine-fold. The decrease in interest in cotton has resulted from the low profitability margins of cotton production.

Azerbaijan collected 35,000 tons of cotton in 2015, which is 14.6 per cent less than in 2014. This is the lowest indicator of cotton production in Azerbaijan since 2010. However, the average yield in the country was 4.5 per cent more than in 2014. Exporting countries have created an artificial market with low prices, which has hampered opportunities for selling Azerbaijani cotton.

Central Java is emerging as an attractive top investment destination for textiles and textile products in Indonesia. This region has attractive factors going for it like availability of labor, a market, and a developed network for distributing textile products. In addition to Central Java, other provinces which are top ranking textile investment destinations in Indonesia are West Java and East Java.

The main investment in the textile sector goes to industrial processing and spinning of textile fibers, followed by the apparel industry, which is followed by the textile industry. Japan is a major investor with 93 projects capable of absorbing 11,906 workers. Indonesia has a well-established, vertically integrated textile industry that is involved in almost every sector of the textile supply chain — from the production of manmade fibers, particularly polyester, nylon and rayon; man-made and cotton yarn spinning; and weaving and knitting; to dyeing, printing and finishing; and apparel and also textile product manufacturing. Most of these companies are located in the region of Java.

However, the Indonesian textile industry is trying to reduce its dependence on imported textile machinery and is being encouraged instead to purchase domestically produced machinery. Tax incentives are being offered to Indonesian textile machinery producers as well as stimulus funds to textile plant owners to upgrade their machinery.

 

Myanmar’s apparel exports are expected to more than double by 2020 owing to the favorable government policies and low labor costs in the country. One of the reasons for this is the high wages and relatively higher cost of production in countries like Vietnam, India, China, and South Korea, which is driving entrepreneurs to Myanmar. Secondly, entrepreneurs from China, South Korea, India, and Vietnam are keen on investing in the garment sector of Myanmar to take advantage of the benefits it enjoys with the developed markets of the US, EU, and Canada.

The new foreign investment law, which was passed in 2012, increased the maximum shareholding of foreign parties in manufacturing to 50 per cent, making the country a suitable sourcing destination for garments. The law also allows foreign investors to lease land for an initial period of 50 years, tax exemption for the first five years, and tariff-free import of raw materials to these companies.

The garment industry of Myanmar employs more than 2,50,000 people and accounts for 10 per cent of export revenues. Myanmar offers some of the cheapest labor costs on the planet combined with easy access to Asian markets -- both attractive features for corporations looking to source low-cost, ready-made garments for export.

The recently concluded international fashion trade show ‘Gallery’ attracted a record number of visitors with a 20 per cent rise. The show was held from January 29 to February 1, 2016 for the first time in the Alte Schmiedehalle as well as at Halle am Wasserturm on the Areal Böhler site. Red Carpet, the orders fair for evening and occasion wear has also booked a successful start.

Ulrike Kähler, Project Director National Trade Shows at the Igedo Company said that the show was very successful premiere for them and they are sure to continue to position Düsseldorf at the hub of the international fashion sector with our presentation at Areal Böhler.

The organisers Igedo Company were able to post a significantly higher visitor footfall than at the Botschaft on Cecilienallee, the ‘Gallery’s former venue. In particular, the showroom concept offering exhibitors a presence over 10 days has generated avid interest among many exhibitors.

According to Philipp Kronen, Managing Partner at the Igedo Company, Düsseldorf is in buyers’ diaries as an orders location. With Gallery and Red Carpet events they will continue to work on the selection of presented brands and leverage the atmospheric backdrop of Areal Böhler in a variety of ways.

The United States was Vietnam’s biggest goods importer in 2015, up 16.9 per cent against 2014. China was Vietnam’s second largest goods importer, up 11.2 per cent year-on-year, followed by South Korea with an increase of 25.03 per cent. Vietnam’s two-way trade with other Asian markets rose by 8.9 per cent over 2014, and these markets made up the biggest proportion of the total, at 65.6 per cent. Apparel is one of Vietnam’s major export earners.

China was Vietnam’s biggest exporter in 2015, a year-on-year rise of 13.9 per cent. Vietnam’s goods exports to the EU climbed 9.4 per cent, to Africa were up 9.8 per cent. Exports to Australia were down 16.2 per cent versus 2014. Vietnam had trade ties with over 200 countries and territories last year. Her exports rose 7.9 per cent year-on-year and imports were up 12 per cent.

Last year, Vietnam spent $14.37 billion on imports from Japan, increasing 11.15 per cent from a year earlier. The nation bought nearly $11 billion worth of goods from Taiwan, down 0.78 per cent; and $8.28 billion from Thailand, growing 16.79 per cent. Vietnam’s imports from South Korea in 2015 showed a strong increase of 27 per cent versus 2014.

The winter 2016 editions of Texworld USA and ApparelSourcing once again opened for business on January 24, 2016 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Despite going up against the second largest blizzard in New York City history, attendees and exhibitors alike braved the weather and converged on the show floor for three days of networking, business development and industry education.

Across both the shows, a record-breaking 310 exhibitors represented 16 countries including: USA, China, Peru, Portugal, United Kingdom, Colombia, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and India. Texworld USA and ApparelSourcing ultimately welcomed a total of 4,008 verified visitors across the three days. The show witnessed the highest number of exhibitors in the history of the show’s winter edition with a total of 201 suppliers, all of which specialize in apparel fabrics, fibers, accessories and trims. ApparelSourcing, the long-term joint venture partnership between Messe Frankfurt and CCPIT-Tex, presented 109 suppliers and international apparel manufacturers specializing in finished apparel, contract manufacturing and private label services.

In addition to gaining access to a large offering of global suppliers providing an expansive selection of products across 16 product groups, attendees had the opportunity to explore Texworld USA’s innovative Trend Forum. Designed by Texworld USA’s art directors Gregory Lamaud and Louis Gerin, the forum explored Spring/Summer 2017’s color and textile trends. The direction and color story of the season was expertly told through each hand- selected fabric swatch and through the ‘Contact’ trend book provided to each attendee.

Through a well thought initiative, the US hemp industry is pushing hard for a measure that would make it legal for US businesses to produce the substance, and if lawmakers approve it. Consumers could soon find US-grown hemp in their food, baby products, fabric, fuel, paint, body-care products, paper, carpet, and even auto parts.

Recently, the National Hemp Association (NHA) hired a lobbying firm with contacts deep in the US Department of Commerce to make a push to get the measure passed this year, said Zev Paiss, the Group’s Director. Paiss says the NHA is prepared to spend more than $10,000 per month to get the issue through.

Including China, which is the largest supplier of hemp fiber to the US more than 30 nations grow hemp to sell as a commodity on the world market. American companies are currently only allowed to use imported hemp to make products because Federal laws forbid growing cannabis, which is used to make the substance.

Over 70 US lawmakers from both political parties—including senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Ron Wyden—back the measure. If passed, industrial hemp would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act definition of marijuana, effectively setting free what the Congressional Research Service estimates to be a $581 million hemp-product industry in the US.

The NHA is approaching many groups that manufacture consumer goods, including auto companies like BMW, to communicate how hemp can be a sustainable source material for insulation in car doors, upholstery, and dashboards to gather further support.

Some of Europe’s biggest garment retailers have supplier factories in Turkey. Now, Syrian refugee children have been found working in these factories. It’s estimated that a few lakh Syrian refugees work illegally in Turkey – the third largest supplier of clothing to Europe after China and Bangladesh.

Some brands have identified the children and taken action to return them to school and to support their families. But the fact is that only a few brands appear to have engaged with the extent and complexity of these issues in their Turkish supply base; even fewer report taking action to protect these vulnerable workers.

Turkey has taken in the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world, accepting some 2.5 million people who have fled the country in the wake of the five-year civil conflict. Germany accepted 1.1 million refugees last year, while Sweden has taken in 1,60,000.

A survey has found that the refugee influx could deliver long term economic benefits to the EU if the refugees are properly integrated into the job market. The UK continues to face criticism for its stringent refugee policy. The opinion is that the number of refugees welcomed by the UK is far too low compared with that taken in by other European countries.

Bangladesh’s export earnings in December 2015 were the highest monthly exports in history. The expectation is that Bangladesh’s GDP will grow 6.7 per cent in 2016, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest clothing exporter, behind only China. It exports the majority of that clothing to the European Union and the US, and business has been good of late. US imports of apparel from Bangladesh, for instance, increased about 16 per cent from November 2014 to November 2015.

Clothing has made up an ever larger share of Bangladesh’s total exports for years, reaching about 81.7 per cent last year. One reason for the country’s success is that there is an insatiable global demand for cheap clothes. And Bangladesh produces a lot of these. In fact this segment seems to be the country’s specialty.

But there are concerns. The country needs to diversify its exports and should start moving up the value chain into higher end products if it really wants to develop. One challenge can come from Vietnam. This has become another top location for apparel manufacturing. If the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal goes through, Vietnam can become an even more attractive spot for sourcing, especially for US brands.

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