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Certification update 
 
Last week, we certified 50 facilities in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
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Bangladesh
Bangladesh to receive more orders than China and Vietnam in coming years
Bangladeshi social and labor compliance rating improves
Garment leaders demand free trade unionism


Cambodia
Minimum wage for garment and textile workers to rise to at least 200 USD

China
China to expand effective demand for stronger economic recovery

Ethiopia
Massive job losses for garment workers at Ethiopia Hawassa Industrial Park

Europe
New campaign aims to secure living wage for garment workers

India
Indian garment workers are fighting for living wages

Myanmar
Myanmar garment sector fragile amid coup

Vietnam 
Vietnam named world's sixth largest fiber and yarn exporter

 
Special content 
 
WRAP's President and CEO, Avedis Seferian, was a featured speaker in a recent webinar hosted by the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) on the prospective implications of mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence (mHRDD) requirements. 

AAFA subscribers can download the recording here.

 
AAFA's President and CEO, Steve Lamar, recently sat down with WRAP's President and CEO, Avedis Seferian, to discuss the role of government in the human rights arena, the increased importance of conducting proper due diligence, and what stakeholders can expect from our partnership over the next year.

Tune in here.

 
As facilities settle into production conditions shaped by a post-pandemic world, we are pleased to share updated guidance developed alongside our friends at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) for ensuring continued factory safety

Read our full guidance here.
A joint publication by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and WRAP offers guidance for understanding and eradicating forced labor in the supply chain.

Click here to read it.

(Requires an AAFA membership)



 
Learn more about symphonization, WRAP's proposal to reduce audit fatigue and establish a truly harmonious social compliance paradigm.

Click here to read the full paper.





 
News from the past week 
 
Bangladesh
Bangladesh to receive more orders than China and Vietnam in coming years
(The Business Standard, July 22, 2022)
According to a new benchmark study from the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), approximately 55 percent of U.S. apparel executives plan to increase their investments in Bangladeshi production over the next two years and turn away from suppliers in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Buyers are increasingly reconsidering their sourcing practices as different geopolitical and economic crises continue to reshape supply chains around the globe. Bangladesh overhauled its human rights and factory safety standards in the past two decades and has established itself as a leader in sustainability. The nation also houses the highest concentration of LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facilities in the world. Domestic manufacturers are rapidly increasing their production capacities as American buyers continue to place new orders, specifically for knitwear items. Over the past few months, the nation’s export growth for readymade garments (RMG) surpassed 50 percent. 

Bangladeshi social and labor compliance rating improves
(New Age, July 23, 2022)
Bangladesh’s national rating for labor and social compliance rose from two to 2.5 (out of five) in the 2022 Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study published by the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA). The study was based on a survey of 34 executives at leading U.S. apparel companies, compiled between April and June 2022. Approximately 70 percent of respondents were self-identified retailers, 67 percent identified as importers and wholesalers, and 40 percent identified as brands. It found that Bangladeshi suppliers are associated with large-scale production capacity, stable economic and political landscapes, sustainable business models, and reliable social compliance enforcement. The country was identified among the top 10 sourcing destinations for the U.S. Though respondents noted that they anticipate production costs to rise over the next year, Bangladesh’s new compliance ranking is incentivizing many buyers to shift their production to local facilities. This trend is underscored by the fact that Bangladesh’s main competitor, China, was identified as a “very high” labor and social compliance risk in this year’s report amid growing political tensions, forced labor allegations, sustainability issues, and pandemic-related supply chain disruptions.

Garment leaders demand free trade unionism
(New Age, July 26, 2022)
At a rally in Dhaka on Friday, July 22, 2022, labor organizers in the garment industry called on the Indian government to ensure workers across the sector have access to free trade unions. The event was organized by the National Garments Workers Federation (NGWF) to mark the 38th founding anniversary of the organization. It took place in front of the National Press Club, where NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin spoke about labor issues facing garment workers, including poor wages and registration obstacles for labor rights bodies. He called on the government to ensure free trade unionism and establish a wage board specializing in industry-specific standard reforms. These calls were echoed by a number of other leading garment worker advocates, including Afifa Akter, Faroque Khan, Safia Parvin, and President of the Ekota Garments Sramik Federation, Quamrul Hasan. All participants took an oath to continue their respective efforts lobbying on behalf of garment workers in their communities. 


Cambodia
Minimum wage for garment and textile workers to rise to at least 200 USD
(Khmer Times, July 21, 2022)
Salary negotiations for workers in Cambodia’s garment and textile sectors will likely begin in August 2022. Advocates expect the minimum wage to increase to 200 USD per month due to inflation and the rising cost of living. Additionally, workers are struggling to sustain themselves due to the ongoing pandemic, global political unrest, and emerging economic crises around the world. Kaing Monica, Deputy Secretary General of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said that negotiations should be based on criteria that are realistic and based on “official figures.” He emphasized that workers should collaborate with employers and strategize ways to improve labor productivity, alleging that it is the only way to reliably increase the gross earnings of factory enterprises and subsequently fund increased wages. However, worker representatives are calling for improved wages regardless of production output. 


China
China to expand effective demand for stronger economic recovery
(Fibre2Fashion, July 24, 2022)
The Chinese State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang recently decided to adopt policy measures expanding effective demand (the level of demand that represents a real intention to purchase by people with the means to pay) to drive economic recovery and growth in the wake of the pandemic. China’s government has stated its commitment to economic recovery, stabilizing factory operations and production outputs, and investing as needed to ensure major economic indicators stay within the appropriate ranges. With this new wave of reforms, it will prioritize job security and price stability as other nations around the world succumb to destabilizing economic and geopolitical crises. These measures are development-oriented and will likely generate physical gains and catalyze lending from commercial banks in the third quarter of this year — a critical time in the nation’s fiscal cycle. They will also help align COVID-19 responsive measures with economic and social development initiatives, promoting safety and health alongside business operations.


Ethiopia
Massive job losses for garment workers at Ethiopia Hawassa Industrial Park
(Just Style, July 22, 2022)
According to Ethiopia's Industrial Federation of Textile, Leather, and Garment Workers Trade Union (IFTLGWTU), ongoing garment factory closures are resulting in an evolving unemployment crisis. Since the United States government announced the end of duty-free access to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), many manufacturers have been forced to reduce or cease operations, triggering mass layoffs. The loss of AGOA benefits went into effect on January 1, 2022 due to unmitigated humanitarian issues compromising supply chains, such as violence in northern Ethiopia and reports of famine in Tigray. When the benefits were first put in place, they more than doubled the number of direct employment opportunities in readymade garment (RMG) manufacturing across the continent. Though many African garment production units relied on duty-free access to the U.S., Ethiopian facilities were hit the hardest. Now, former factory workers are struggling to find work as the Ethiopia Industry Park Development Corporation (IPDC) struggles to calculate the long-term economic implications of this growing crisis. 


Europe
New campaign aims to secure living wage for garment workers
(Just Style, July 20, 2022)
The largest, most comprehensive wage campaign in European history is organizing consumers to support the European Citizens Initiative (ECI), proposed legislation recognizing living wages in the garment industry. “Good Clothes, Fair Pay” is calling for explicit legislation that establishes enforcement mechanisms ensuring compensation standards are met and that payments to workers are completed in accordance with the law. Advocates are also urging brands and retailers to implement, monitor, and publicly disclose target-bound plans which close the gap between actual and living wages in a timely manner. The new legislation would cover all retailers who want to trade in the EU, regardless of where they are located. It differs from the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), in that the ECI specifically focuses on living wages, has a broader scope, underlines the importance of continuous engagement with unions and workers, and includes a grievance mechanism that acts as an early warning system for issues in the supply chain. The CSDDD does not mention living wages explicitly, only covers large companies, plans to limit involvement of stakeholders to “where and when relevant,” and vaguely mentions a generalized complaint mechanism. 


India
Indian garment workers are fighting for living wages
(Times of India, July 24, 2022)
Garment and textile workers across India are struggling as facilities fail to pay their compensation on time, or even at all. Many manufacturers are regularly issuing payments to workers that are below the legal minimum wage. Around the globe, the ability to earn a living is considered an unalienable human right, however most garment workers receive approximately 25 percent of a living wage. As advocates call for stricter enforcement, many industry leaders are alleging that their failure to compensate workers is a global standard, while others focus on the sector’s broader economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. Many facilities are working to increase their export targets as public perceptions about what constitutes “fair” wages are not aligned with legal standards for the minimum wage, overtime, piece-rate plans, and other compensation structures. However, there has been some headway in this space. For example in Bengaluru, a number of garment manufacturers recently committed to paying their workers the legal minimum wage as well as longstanding arrears. Local unions and government institutions are also starting to collaborate to promote stronger benefits across the sector. 


Myanmar
Myanmar garment sector fragile amid coup
(Just Style, July 25, 2022)
Amid ongoing political unrest, garment facilities in Myanmar are navigating increasingly dangerous environments. As a direct result of the military coup, trade union engagement has decreased and there has been a steep rise in reports of workers’ rights violations. Local unions have called for the European Union (EU) to suspend the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement, claiming the garment industry remains “a vital source of foreign exchange” for the regime. However some industry leaders worry that this course of action would negatively impact the hundreds of thousands of garment workers across the country who need stable incomes more than ever right now, harming vulnerable citizens while barely affecting military interests. The EU has not issued a statement regarding the EBA’s future, but the fragility of Myanmar’s garment sector is weighing heavily on low level workers. As production units brace for reduced orders and economic uncertainty, workers fear they may soon have no one left to advocate on their behalf. 


Vietnam 
Vietnam named world's sixth largest fiber and yarn exporter
(Fibre2Fashion, July 24, 2022)
According to recent data from the Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association (VCOSA), Vietnam has surpassed South Korea as the world’s sixth largest exporter of fiber and yarn. In the first five months of this year, the nation exported approximately 2.37 billion USD worth of fabric materials and finished goods, an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period in 2021. Altogether, Vietnamese textiles, garments, fiber, yarn, and fabric exports reached nearly 18.73 billion USD during this time — a year-on-year increase of approximately 20.81 percent. Textile and garment exports increased 22.2 percent to 14.99 billion USD, geotextiles exports increased 27 percent to 376.8 million USD, and raw material exports increased 19.2 percent to 979.8 million USD. Many industry leaders are attributing this growth to issues in China’s supply chains. Though approximately 60 percent of Vietnam’s textile and garment exports went to China, buyers in the United States and Europe are increasingly shifting away from Chinese suppliers. Additionally, Vietnam’s economic integration with the rest of the world, including a number of new free trade agreements, has allowed domestic manufacturers access to new markets and promoted innovation across the sector. 

 
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