Top stories this week include a warning from the World Bank on the cost of the Ukraine-Russia war, Hong Kong’s Esquel Group cutting production in Sri Lanka and a look at whether the apparel industry really learned any lessons from the Rana Plaza disaster.

World Bank warns 40% rise in cotton prices as Ukraine
The World Bank warns the Ukraine war is set to cause the “largest commodity shock” since the 1970s with cotton prices expected to be nearly 40% higher in 2022.

Esquel Group cuts Sri Lanka production on US order lull
Hong Kong-based fashion giant the Esquel Group confirms with Just Style it has cut production in Sri Lanka due to “the loss of many US customers”.

OPINION: Social audits, modern slavery — Covid shows apparel industry did not learn from Rana Plaza disaster
The University of Aberdeen’s Business School Professor Muhammad Azizul Islam, who has conducted research on apparel workers in Bangladesh, finds the similarities between the way garment workers were treated during the pandemic and the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. The Professor and his colleagues explain retailers’ social audits have not improved workers’ economic or human rights, yet retail revenues continue to grow.

ANALYSIS: JCPenney owner’s bid for Kohl’s could be a risky move
Reports have surfaced that JCPenney department store owners Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management have made an US$8.6bn bid for competitor Kohl’s.

Clean Clothes Campaign calls brands out for ‘freeriding on others’ health, safety efforts
As the world marks nine years since the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster in Bangladesh, the Clean Clothes Campaign is calling on fashion brands such as Levi Strauss, Gap, VF Corp and Target to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety, claiming they are “freeriding” on the progress that has already been made.