Blog: Leonie BarrieSanctions come and go

Leonie Barrie | 1 October 2012

In a move that has been welcomed by US apparel and footwear retailers and brands, the US is to begin lifting sanctions against Burma (also known as Myanmar). The measures, which would include an end to the ban on imports, are likely to boost the South Asian country's garment industry.

Burma has taken steps over the past year to improve human rights and implement democratic reforms, and the US move comes a week after the European Commission began to reinstate trade preferences for Burma. Its decision would give products such as clothing duty- and quota-free access to the European market for the first time since 1997.

But activists from Uzbekistan are calling for an extension to an international boycott of Uzbek cotton and textiles as part of efforts to ramp up pressure on the government to end the use of forced and child labour in the country's cotton fields.

They say the ban on Uzbek cotton by more than 80 international brands and retailers doesn't go far enough - and that difficulties identifying the fibre's country of origin make it hard to enforce. Instead, they want the boycott of Uzbek cotton and textiles to include the companies that use these products, as well as foreign investors and partners in Uzbek textile firms.

The Bangladesh garment export industry is also seen as being at a crossroads, with its twin pillars of cheap labour and reliability increasingly proving to be incompatible. It is now time to bring all the stakeholders together - factory suppliers, customers, government and workers - to create a viable comprehensive and integrated solution, an article on just-style argues.

And garment firms in Pakistan are facing cancelled exports and problems in securing new orders from the EU and US following safety concerns after a factory fire earlier this month killed more than 289 workers. Some orders have also reportedly been shifted to Bangladesh in the wake of the disaster.

Efforts to get smarter across the supply chain through the use of collaboration and technology, the disconnect between fast fashion and sustainability issues, as well as likely sourcing trends, were among topics discussed at this year's IAF World Apparel Convention, which took place in Portugal last week.


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