Blog: Leonie BarrieThe end in sight for Bangladesh pay talks

Leonie Barrie | 18 November 2013

It would finally seem that an end is in sight to the protracted negotiations to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment workers in Bangladesh.

After more than 200 of the country's apparel factories were shuttered last week amid on-going protests by workers calling for higher pay, factory owners finally agreed to the 77% hike tabled by the government-appointed wage board. 

According to the latest details, pay is set to rise 77% to BDT5,300 (US$68.17) per month, with the new wage due to take effect from 1 December. The basic salary is also set to rise by 5% each year.

Problems encountered in sourcing from, and setting up, factories in Bangladesh are believed to be among reasons why Japanese brands and retailers are sourcing more garments from China. Indeed, a range of supply issues across Asia should also resonate with buyers in the US and EU too.  

Hot topics under discussion at the annual meeting of the rebranded United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) included major trade negotiations - including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact and the EU TTIP - and the changing concerns of the US apparel industry

The typhoon-hit Philippines is also hoping for accelerated beneficial trade access to the US and EU in the wake of the disaster.

Meanwhile, UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer has set its sights on expansion in India, targeting around 80 stores by 2016 and establishing the country as a key sourcing hub. We ask whether M&S is being overly ambitious in its plans? What challenges does it face? And would it be better-served exploring opportunities elsewhere?

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