Blog: Hannah AbdullaUK urged for tougher measures on Xinjiang forced labour

Hannah Abdulla | 29 March 2021

UK firms are unable to guarantee their supply chains are free of forced labour of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, China, a government committee has warned, as it calls for tougher anti-modern slavery requirements and measures to force firms to eradicate forced labour in their supply chains.

Meanwhile, the United States Fashion Industry Association has highlighted the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to tackle the issue.

US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc is building on the success of its PACE programme to launch a shared platform that leverages its knowledge, skills, and networks to drive collective action to benefit women workers and gender equity in global supply chains.

Nearly a year after the Covid-19 pandemic adversely impacted the Turkish garment sector, the country's clothing manufacturers are once again complaining of ill-treatment by major brands amid subdued market demand.

H&M Group and the IndustriAll global union are re-affirming their commitment to work together to support the economic and social recovery of the global garment industry through the Covid-19 crisis.

Although we're not out of the woods yet regarding the pandemic and an anaemic economy, brands are stirring back to life. But with this tentative awakening comes cautiousness and uncertainty about the clothing market. Specifically, will consumers buy clothes as they did before the pandemic, or have we entered a new world?

Garments and footwear with integrated sensors that transmit biometric information and other datasets will reach new heights of popularity by 2030 and are set to be worth more than US$4bn.

On the sustainability front, Greenpeace says certification is a weak tool to address global forest and ecosystem destruction and criticises the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for having a number of "serious and fundamental weaknesses".

While Nike Inc has established its new five-year roadmap for global impact, which encompasses 29 new targets and sees the US sporting giant tie executive compensation to its progress in deepening diversity and inclusion, protecting the planet, and advancing ethical manufacturing for the first time.

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has launched version 4.0 of its Product Standard which puts stakeholders at the centre of the conversation and includes soil stewardship for the first time, as the organisation looks to respond to increased scrutiny from consumers about brands' sustainable actions.

Plans to reduce waste have been unveiled by the UK government and include proposals for new measures that will ramp up action on fast fashion and hold manufacturers accountable for textile waste.

And the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex) has called for a Pact for Skills initiative to be an essential pillar of the new EU Textiles Strategy.

The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with a damaging trade war with China, made 2020 an unprecedented year for US apparel trade and sourcing. How have fashion companies adjusted their strategies in response to the turbulent business environment? And how will US apparel sourcing patterns evolve in 2021?

Retroactive renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), and a renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another ten years are among a list of pressing trade matters that has been presented to newly-appointed US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai by the US apparel and footwear industry which looks to outline its trade priorities for the year ahead.

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