Blog: Hannah AbdullaBangladesh Supreme Court delays Accord decision, again

Hannah Abdulla | 15 April 2019

For the seventh time the Supreme Court of Bangladesh has delayed its decision on the future operation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in the country – with the court hearing now set to take place on 19 May.

However, the country has – in recent years – improved GDP growth to the point it is likely to graduate from the Least Developed Countries list in 2024. But the World Trade Organization is urging the government to make the necessary reforms so it can to continue to capitalise on global trade opportunities upon graduation. Multiple factory checks and audit fatigue has been described as a "serious issue" for suppliers, according to one Bangladeshi manufacturer that is calling for "true transparency" from apparel brands by converging and sharing their factory audit results.

In Vietnam, workers in garment factories continue to work excessive overtime just to make ends meet. A new report from the Fair Labour Association is calling for brands to redouble efforts to make fair wages a reality without workers having to put in overtime beyond what is acceptable by international standards. Ethics and sustainability are just a couple of the main issues when it comes to off-shore sourcing; the question is whether it is now time to re-shore production

A closer link to actual production sites would definitely help tackle one issue and that is counterfeit goods entering the marketplace, something US President Donald Trump has vowed to combat. The US is now also mulling a tariff hike on products such as clothing from the EU as part of an escalating trade row over aircraft subsidies.

Trade wars are just one of ten potential supply chain disruptors of 2019 named in DHL's Resilience360 Risk Report, the others being raw material shortages and increasingly tough environmental regulations. And investment in digital supply chains is set to increase dramatically in 2019 but the biggest challenge remains in finding enough workers with the necessary skills to implement them.

Andreas Streubig director of global sustainability at Hugo Boss, however, believes systemic change in achieving more sustainable supply chains requires a concerted industry approach – which as yet is only in its beginning stages.

Retail giant Walmart has outlined a number of new sustainability goals for apparel sold in its US stores, including plans to source more sustainable fibres and working with suppliers to reduce its manufacturing impact.

In the denim space, Levi Strauss announced its first set of quarterly results since its initial public offering last month and delivered strong top and bottom line growth. While consultancy firm Alvanon says consumers are placing greater importance on a good fit when it comes to buying jeans – and has put together a 'cheat sheet' to help brands.

And when it comes to garment production, digital technologies continue to make waves. Here are some of the steps industry executives can take to expedite design and development and stay at the forefront in an increasingly competitive landscape.

In other big news, just-style has launched the first issue of its quarterly magazine which sets out to explore major topics that are top-of-mind for today's apparel industry executives. And UK department store retailer Debenhams Plc finally fell into administration last week, passing almost immediately through a pre-pack sale process that has seen lenders take control of the group.

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