Blog: Leonie BarrieNew US trade trends taking shape?

Leonie Barrie | 14 October 2019

In a reversal of trends seen in July, the three Central American countries that are the largest suppliers of clothing to the US – Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras – saw a dramatic fall in shipments in August. And imports from Southeast Asia crept back up with Cambodia booking the largest growth, suggesting US buyers are tapping into neighbouring countries as the US-China trade war intensifies.

Haiti's apparel sector continues to be one of the main beneficiaries of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) – but US T-shirt producers are most likely to have faced negative effects due to competition from imports under the trade preference programme.

While working conditions in Nicaragua's garment sector have improved over the last eight years, with lasting change the result of expanding collaboration with workers, factories and government.

The temporary tariff regime due to be introduced if the UK leaves the European Union at the end of October without a deal has been extended to include 7% more products. But an unintended consequence is that the biggest group of beneficiaries would be Chinese clothing manufacturers who are effectively granted duty-free access to the UK for half their production.

A meeting between representatives of the world's largest retail brands and leading figures from Bangladesh's ready-made garment (RMG) sector has highlighted the importance of a sustainability vision for the South Asian country's apparel industry.

But despite current efforts to create more eco-friendly fashion, the textile and clothing industry needs a more deliberate approach to integrating sustainability across the entire value chain. Here are three key areas that should be addressed.

We’ve also looked at how a fashion company can convince external stakeholders (investors or banks) and indeed itself (directors, management and staff) that the targets set out in budgets and range plans are both fair and achievable.

And international firms have been accused of complacency in their action and reporting on conflict minerals and cobalt – with the average score for apparel manufacturers and retailers falling on last year.

A new study also suggests US shoppers are less sensitive to prices in all clothing categories including womenswear, menswear and children's wear – creating many opportunities for retailers to charge more for their products.

Meanwhile, in other news, UK fashion chains Topshop and Topman have been blamed for the fall from grace of parent Arcadia Group; Fast Retailing has booked "record” full-year profit; H&M Group has taken a majority stake in re-commerce business Sellpy; and British surfwear brand Finisterre is the first to package garments in marine-safe bags.

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