Blog: Leonie BarrieBangladesh safety progress painfully slow

Leonie Barrie | 17 February 2014

Close to a year after the Rana Plaza disaster, progress on improving worker safety and labour rights in Bangladesh has been painfully slow - but who is responsible for the delays?

The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last week heard that progress has been insufficient to justify a reinstatement of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) benefits. And the testimonies show that much more needs to be done to comply with an action plan laid out by the US last year.

In a separate interview with just-style, Jeff Krilla, president and CEO of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, talks about the group's work so far to improve safety for the country's garment workers. 

For all the talk about the impact of safety issues on Bangladesh's garment exports, official figures show the state of play when it came to US apparel sourcing last year.  And the picture they paint shows supply options continue to be dominated by China, Vietnam and yes, Bangladesh.

Turkey's clothing industry, meanwhile, is anticipating stronger export growth in 2014, despite growing concerns within the sector about increasing pressure on price from European retailers.

But with international expansion, improved customer service and multi-channel among the top three investment areas for UK retailers, there is going to be increased pressure on supply chains to deliver in all these areas.

More than 50 UK retailers, suppliers, charities and recyclers are supporting a new government-backed sustainability drive to cut the environmental impact of clothing throughout its life cycle. Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Next are among the signatories, who between them represent 40% of the UK clothing market.

And Primark has become the latest retailer to commit to the elimination of hazardous chemicals from all its products and across its production processes by 2020.

Over in the US, men's apparel and footwear business Jos A Bank Clothiers has acquired outdoor wear brand Eddie Bauer from private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in a deal worth US$825m.

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