The Accord wants apparel bodies in Bangladesh like BGMEA and BKMEA to join its advisory board. But the two are not willing to do that as they feel the board won’t take effective decisions. The Accord is an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. It includes independent safety inspections at factories and public reporting of the results of these inspections.
However, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) don’t mind joining Accord's steering committee. Accord feels having these associations on board is necessary especially when it comes to issues like payment of wages during operation suspension and critical situations.
The Bangladesh Accord has 156 global brands and retailers. It came about in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse. It requires companies to pay up to $5,00,000 annually to administer inspections, which are backed by labor groups. If a factory fails to employ necessary safety procedures, that information will be made public and the factory will be embarrassed and may lose business retailers.
Almost 40 teams of international fire, electrical, and structural engineers are working with Bangladeshi engineers and technicians on the inspections.
Shima Seiki known for its computerised flat knit technology will exhibit its range at Shima Seiki Europe to be held from June 17 to 19, in London. The flagship Mach 2X series features Shima Seiki's original Slide Needle on four needle beds and is the only machine suited to Wholegarment knitting in all needles. The new compact SWG-N2 series Wholegarment knitting machine offers increased color capacity as well as the capability for producing industrial textiles. SRY123 LP features a pair of loop presser beds mounted above a conventional V-shaped needle bed and is capable of producing unprecedented knitwear with woven textures as well as technical textiles.
Shima Seiki's unique SIP flatbed inkjet printing machine features a height adjustable printing head that allows for printing onto 3D textures, as well as finished products such as Wholegarment items. Combined with the SDS-One Apex 3 3D design system, a fully integrated manufacturing system realizes full-color value-added garments to be designed, color-matched, modeled in 3D, printed and approved with significantly shortened lead times compared with traditional methods.
The Apex 3 system is at the core of the company’s Total Knitting System concept. With comprehensive support of the knit supply chain, Apex 3 integrates knit production into one smooth and efficient workflow from planning and design to machine programming, production and even sales promotion. Virtual sampling through photo-realistic simulation minimises the need for sample-making, effectively reducing time, material and cost from the sampling process. Apex 3 also supports design and simulation in various other industries such as circular knitting, weaving, pile weaving and printing.
State-owned jute mills in Bangladesh have decided to offload at least 49 per cent of their stake on the capital market. There are 26 such jute mills. Also the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) will be turned into a holding company. At present, the mills are running under BJMC. The divestment will be completed within the next one year. The shares will be floated once BJMC turns into a holding company. The move is expected to ensure the livelihood of more than 80,000 workers.
The aim of offloading is to make state-run jute mills run profitably. The government has decided to turn the BJMC into a holding company to protect the state-owned jute mills from incurring financial losses. It has so far succeeded in making five jute mills profitable and is hopeful of seeing others become profitable after floating shares. A good number of loss-making mills have already been shut down over the years.
As a part of the offloading activities, the government will immediately enlist chartered accountants to make the valuation of assets and liabilities of the mills under BJMC. The government nationalised 79 jute mills after liberation through the Bangladesh Industrial Enterprises (Nationalisation) Order, 1972. Later the government sold 52 jute mills to private entrepreneurs.
Turkey is helping upgrade skills and expertise of Pakistan's workforce. Turkish experts will impart training to the Pakistani workforce to fulfill the requirements of local industrial textile units especially those engaged in export to European countries.
The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) operates in more than 30 countries. TIKA was established in 1992. It’s an agency of the Government of Turkey. There are five areas are covered by TIKA's activitities: East Europe and the Balkans; Caucasus and Central Asia; Eastern Asia; Middle East; and Africa. TIKA’s role is to facilitate economic, commercial, technical, social, cultural and educational cooperation with developing countries through projects aimed at assisting the development of these countries. The agency seeks to foster sustainable social and economic development through the provision of financial support and technical assistance. The focus areas are social and economic infrastructure, enhancement of production sectors and the protection of social peace. TIKA manages central budget resources, and it is also the administrator of special funds owned by the central government.
The largest share of assistance is directed towards Central Asia. Afghanistan is a major recipient. The agency has assumed the role of a coordinator in reaching out to diverse geographic areas to pursue the interests of Turkey.
About 3,000 Chinese nationals were evacuated from Vietnam, following deadly rioting sparked by anger over Chinese oil drilling in a disputed area of the South China Sea. The geographical tension erupted after China deputed a $1 billion oil rig in a part off the South China Sea. It was considered the worst breakdown in ties between the two Communist neighbours since a short border war in 1979. Investors from Hong Kong and Taiwan had warned the Vietnamese government to take speedy action in controlling the protestors.
However, now that the unrest is under control, experts claim that business will continue to flourish with investments pouring into the country’s clothing and footwear industry. By the time, the Vietnamese Army stepped in to control the riots on May 15 almost 351 factories were damaged in the province. Sources claim that around 20,000 workers participated in the protests that broke off around the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) I and II in Binh Duong. And violence has since spread to the central province of Ha Tinh, with a number of people said to have been killed.
The intention of the protestors was to attack Chinese companies but they mistook Taiwanese and South Korean factories for Chinese plants and damaged their office buildings and plant facilities. Companies like Taiwan's Thong Dung Footwear and Kingmaker Footwear, China's Far Eastern Apparel Company and Texhong Textile, some Li & Fung suppliers, and Hong Kong-listed shoe maker Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings were forced to stop production in Vietnam, due to workers’ protest.
Taiwanese textile investors had decided to stop their expansion in Vietnam. And Taiwanese textile firms are among the biggest investors in Vietnam, while the country is also Taiwan's second-largest export market for textile products. According to Taiwan Customs statistics, Taiwan exported textile products worth $1.9 billion to Vietnam in 2013, accounting for 16 per cent of Taiwan's textile exports. According to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), geographical tensions around the South China Sea could also have a negative impact on footwear and apparel imports into the US. After Taiwanese investors, now Hong Kong investors in Vietnam have threatened to hold their expansion plans if Vietnam. Businessman and lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan has said that at least one investor has already taken steps in the direction. One Hong Kong businessman who has invested $300 million in Vietnam is holding his plans of injecting another $100 million dollars for now.
However, now the Taiwanese and Korean textile production firms in Vietnam have decided not to withdraw their capital. Taiwan textile businesses that have suffered losses in the riots will quickly restore operations in Vietnam, facilitated by prompt insurance payments, Huang noted. Also firms and investors from Hong Kong will continue to remain invested in Vietnam.
Significant changes in cotton production are expected for a number of countries in 2014-15 due to the effects of El Nino. World’s 2014-15 cotton area is forecast to remain nearly unchanged at 32.9 million hectares, but below the five-year average. The global yield in 2014-15 is forecasted below last several seasons at 764 kg per hectare.
The two largest producing countries—China and India—are expected to account for a combined 50 per cent of the global crop in 2014-15. In 2013-14, these countries contributed about 53 per cent of world cotton production. China is forecast to produce 29.5 million bales in 2014-15, nearly 8 per cent below the previous season and the smallest crop since 2005-06.
India’s 2014-15 cotton production is forecast at 28.5 million bales, a three per cent decline from the preceding year despite slightly higher area. Last season, production benefited from above average yields. Concerns about El Niño may discourage further growth in planted area. India’s yield is projected at 526 kg per hectare, near the three-year average.
Australia is also expected to reduce cotton production in 2014-15 as reservoir levels have decreased considerably from a year ago. In contrast, Brazil’s crop estimate has been raised as increased cotton plantings are expected. Pakistan and Uzbekistan are forecast to produce crops similar to the 2013-14 season. The largest increase is projected for the United States in 2014-15.
The textiles and garment industry in Thailand feels the declaration of martial law will hurt its prospects. After months of political impasse, Thailand's military has imposed martial law in response to the threat of civil war.
The country’s manufacturers want the government to do its utmost to secure long-term low duty access to the EU. Thailand was excluded from this facility this year since it was deemed too rich to be included in the program. The EU's Generalised System of Preferences grants low or duty-free access to EU markets for many developing countries.
Apart from reduced global competiveness in the long run, the imposition of martial law also deals a blow to Thai garment manufacturers serving the domestic market. While Thai exporters may relocate factories to countries that still have GSP privileges, such as Laos or Vietnam, the detrimental effect of political uncertainty on tourism is certain. Revenues for the local garment industry are sure to suffer as foreign consumers shun the country.
Under Thailand’s Martial Law Act of 1914, military commanders have wide-ranging powers to suppress unrest, including powers to detain people, censor the media, impose curfews and prohibit public gatherings.
The World Textile Awards are looking at being the first truly independent and global competition dedicated to celebrating and rewarding the best companies across the entire industry. The awards recognises and rewards excellence in the textile industry worldwide.
The group feels there are many firms worldwide doing amazing work and they need to be recognized. The vision was to select winners from across the supply chain, all the way from fiber production through to the end stitched product. The competition is putting excellence ahead of all other factors such as company size or geographical location. It is a level playing field.
Winners will be announced in each of the competition’s seven categories with one overall winner also garnering the prestigious title of International Textile Firm of the Year. The competition has been created by a partnership of textile professionals and award competition experts and is headquartered in London.
Judges are currently being scouted from the worldwide pool of textile professionals and interested parties can also submit their application to be a judge through the World Textile Awards website. The competition is now open for entries and early bird reduced rates are available until July 1, 2014.
The entire world's attention was drawn to Bangladesh, after calamities like fire and building collapse claimed several lives in the RMG industry last year. The issue of lack of fire safety norms and compliance came to the fore with several labour organisations and well-known western brands importing from the country raising an alarm about labour safety. Now, other Asian countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia have woken up to deal with the challenges faced by their garment manufacturing industries.
Especially issues in Cambodia where industrial disputes over working conditions in its textile and clothing sector are being dealt with. The country's garment industry has been trying to improve its reputation for fair working conditions, in part due to the presence of Better Factories Cambodia, an International Labour Organization (ILO) programme that independently monitors factories. However, the collapse of two garment and a shoe factory that left three dead and dozens injured, raised concerns about the safety conditions.
A Better Factories Cambodia survey conducted in July 2013 pointed out that no improvement has been made in areas including fire safety, child labour, and worker safety and health. The report warned that: "Cambodia's industry runs the risk of forfeiting the advantages that come from its reputation for decent working conditions." The group also published its first online transparency database in March, this year and has seen work happening towards improving compliance in the industry.
Pakistan happens to be another country where progress in compliance standards is not up to the mark. While demands and promises were made to implement safety regulations and industry standards in the garment industry following a September 2012 factory fire in Karachi that killed 258 workers, however, no major initiatives have been taken up so far.
Experts in Pakistan claim that lack of labour laws, corruption and the tendency to cut corners to secure bigger profits continue to plague the industry.
The West Pakistan Hazardous Occupation Rule 1963, authorised under the pre-independence Factories Act 1934, is the only comprehensive Pakistan legislation on factory health and safety.
Though Pakistan is signatory to the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Labour Inspection Convention, implementation of such laws has been an issue in the textile industry, which employs 38 per cent of the country's manufacturing workforce.
Sri Lanka has been ahead of its competitors in better establishing safety standards. The country’s national laws demand safe and healthy working conditions, environmental protection standards and acceptable hours of work since its independence. Sri Lanka's Shop and Office Employees Act No 19 of 1954 limits a normal day's work hours to eight and 45 for a week. The legislation also bans child labour across all sectors, including the garment industry, while the Factories Ordinance (No 45 of 1942) says all factories should maintain a safe and a healthy work environment. Sri Lanka has also ratified the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951, of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Young fashion graduates now have the opportunity to submit their work in three prize-eligible categories: Design, Product Development and Branding under the IAF Student Award category. Winners of the award will receive a half-year paid placement at a major global brand.
Companies where previous award winners have been placed include Supertrash and Diesel. Last year students from over 63 international fashion institutes took part in the IAF Student Award competition. Submissions for the awards would be judged by a panel of industry experts based on the criteria such as attention to fashion trends, commercial applicability, technique and technology.
The purpose of the award is to connect the results of fashion education to real, relevant challenges in the fashion industry. The winners of each category of the 2014 IAF Student Award will be announced at the 30th edition of the IAF World Fashion Convention to be hosted in Medellín, Colombia on September 30th.