• Amfori said it achieved membership of more than 2,200 businesses in supply chains across 44 countries in 2017.
  • Amfori also launched its Audit Integrity Programme in January, and continued worked for a second year on its Zero Tolerance Protocol.
Amfori has been working to help companies improve working conditions in their supply chains

Amfori has been working to help companies improve working conditions in their supply chains

Brussels based business association Amfori, formerly known as the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), has strengthened its sustainability partnerships over the last year, as well as introducing a new governance structure and continuing its work to help companies improve working conditions in their supply chains.

In its first annual report under its new name and identity, Amfori said it achieved membership of more than 2,200 businesses in supply chains across 44 countries in 2017, representing a combined turnover of EUR1.6trn (US$1.9trn).

Amfori's BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) division, which is active in 42 countries, carried out 21,220 audits, trained 6,790 professionals at its workshops, and reached 52,934 active producers on its platform.

The division, which covers three sectors – general merchandise, garments and textiles, and household goods – identified three top issues in its audits last year: occupational health and safety; social management systems and cascading of values to business partners; and decent working hours.

Amfori launched its Audit Integrity Programme in January with three core pillars: Audit Company Acceptance Criteria; Audit Qualification & Training Scheme; and Audit Quality Programme.

"Amfori is the only organisation on the market with an audit integrity programme that drives continuous improvement," it said. "We encourage our members and their producers to strive towards continuous improvement because we believe in incremental progress over rigid rules that punish mistakes. High quality audits are the cornerstone of responsible due diligence and the key to unlocking continuous improvement throughout a supply chain."

Last year also marked the second full year in which Amfori's Zero Tolerance Protocol has been in operation. Its purpose is to respond "accurately and efficiently to flagrant human rights violations" found during an Amfori BSCI audit.

The protocol is designed to allow producers to better understand why certain practices represent 'zero tolerance' issues and how to prevent their re-occurrence. In 2017, 81 'zero tolerance' cases were initiated, which means a conference call between members and producers was setup within 72 hours of an alert being triggered and remediation pursued within ten days.

"The achievements made and milestones passed in 2017–18 are rooted in Amfori's strategy for the future," say Amfori's president and director general, Tino Zeiske and Christian Ewert, respectively. "Our bold Vision 2030 Strategy will ensure we continue on the right path, enabling open and sustainable trade and adding value to our membership. We will also continue to focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and our members' contribution to their fulfilment."