Chinese textile companies are to start reporting on social responsibility under an initiative to implement high standards across the industry.

Speaking at a Sino-EU supply chain summit in Beijing today (18 November), Sun Ruizhe, vice president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), said 10 companies have signed up to publish a report on working conditions at their factories. 

"Reporting can increase trust among stakeholders and in turn reduce the need for inspections and certifications."

Since 2007, around 200 companies have implemented CSC9000T, a code of conduct developed by CNTAC, said Sun.

CSC9000T is "comparable" to the standards set by the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) run by the Brussels-based Foreign Trade Association (FTA), said president Ferry den Hoed.

In coming months BSCI is planning to audit five Chinese companies using both codes to compare results.

"If we find that CSC is workable, we can then tell everyone that this audit is OK and we can go back to the business of retailing. Our goal ultimately is to be able to end BSCI."

BSCI has audited almost 5,000 companies, said Den Hoed. About 70% are Chinese. Most of the problems identified by the audits are related to working hours. 

Arcandor board member Professor Helmut Merkel added that Chinese companies also need to think about environmental standards as part of their code of practice.

FTA will continue working with CNTAC in 2009 under an agreement signed today. "CNTAC's influence is much greater than what we could do with awareness-raising activities," said Den Hoed.

By Dominique Patton.