Blog: Leonie BarrieEconomic recovery buoys apparel production

Leonie Barrie | 23 September 2013

Continuing signs of recovery in Europe, coupled with rising demand across other industrialised nations, is helping global apparel and textile production to year-on-year growth, according to new data.

In the latest of its regular reports, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said apparel output rose 3.7% in the second quarter, with developing and emerging economies not surprisingly leading the way.

The figures appear to contrast with trends last year, which saw many of the world's leading clothing exporting countries look towards emerging economies to offset falling shipments to EU markets.

While a snapshot of the current state of play in US textile and apparel trade shows imports last year fell for the first time in three years, producers continued to diversify their supply chains, and retailers raised their prices even though the unit value of imports declined. 

In Bangladesh, the focus on compensation payments for the victims and survivors of recent garment factory tragedies has raised the intriguing issue of who is culpable? Factory owners and current customers are obvious targets, what about retailers and brands who might have sourced there in the past?

Proposals on the table for ready-made garment (RMG) wages in Bangladesh also highlight the wide gulf that exists when it comes to the interests of workers and factories. A wage board set up in June is currently evaluating calls for rises ranging from 20% to 170%.

Meanwhile, retailer Marks & Spencer plans to survey 22,500 workers in its clothing supplier factories on everything from working conditions to financial literacy. The survey will be done by mobile phone and follows tests in India and Sri Lanka.

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