Blog: Hannah AbdullaUS imports from Bangladesh and Cambodia jump in May

Hannah Abdulla | 8 July 2019

Bangladesh and Cambodia both enjoyed a boost in apparel shipments to the US during May – at around the same time US President Donald Trump said he was mulling a tariff hike on all incoming Chinese goods, suggesting retailers and brands are moving forward with plans to cut back on how much product they source from the Southeast Asian giant.

Dozens of company and industry representatives descended on Washington over the past two weeks totestify on the impact of any further tariff escalation on US apparel, footwear and textile retailers, importers and manufacturers.

And in a move that may perhaps come as no surprise in light of rising US-Chinese tensions, a global trade barometer (GTB) has indicated a slight contraction of worldwide trade for the next three months.

Clothing brands based in Japan have taken steps to protect themselves against exposure to US-China trade turbulence by decreasing their reliance on China-based manufacturing facilities in recent years. 

However, the fear of an imminent rise in extra tariffs on virtually all US imports from China – including textiles, apparel and footwear – seems to have receded after progress made during talks between President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Japan.

In other trade news, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is moving closer to coming into force after being signed by the two sides.

And the annual review of the eligibility of sub-Saharan African countries to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is now underway.

The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) has inked a deal with the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) to advance the development of sensor and wearable technology. 

And Boston-based New Balance Athletics has launched a new 3D printing platform based around a new proprietary photopolymer resin, which reduces the need for injection moulded thermoplastic and speeds its development and production cycles. 

We also looked at how the next generation of warehouse operations can not only deliver new levels of retail profitability, but can stop margin erosion in its tracks and what steps retailers can take to make their warehouse operations succeed.

To help meet strong demand for its speciality fibres, Austrian cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing Group is to build what it claims will be the world's largest lyocell fibre plant in Thailand.

And Chinese viscose producer Tangshan Sanyou has managed to produce viscose staple fibre from 50% post-consumer recycled cotton textiles on an industrial scale, in a move that helps shift the industry away from harvesting virgin forests, cotton fields or oil wells as the source of its raw materials.

South Korea's SAE-A Trading, one of the world's largest apparel manufacturers and exporters, is considering building an estimated US$200m high-tech industrial complex in Guatemala to make polyester yarns. Its goal: taking advantage of rising US demand for apparel made in Central America. 

On the sustainability front, German sportswear giant Puma has set a new climate goal approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030.

While Japanese retail giant Fast Retailing is to eliminate the use of unnecessary plastic throughout its supply chain and reduce up to 85% of the amount of single-use plastic packaging at group stores by the end of 2020.

Unions are fighting for migrant workers to enjoy the same rights as Mauritian workers in the country's textile and garment sector supply chain.

And a group of campaigners trying to eradicate child labour and forced labour in cotton production in Central Asia has outlined a series of recommendations to end what it calls "state-sponsored" forced labour in Uzbekistan's cotton sector. 

Buyers have taken action in Malaysia after an 18-month investigation conducted by non-profit Transparentem uncovered evidence that some garment workers making clothes for major retailers in the Asian country were working in conditions that included indicators of forced labour.

And garment workers in Bangladesh are one step closer to receiving their wages digitally following the signing of a new agreement between the country's government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). 

In other news, Sainsbury's appeared to gain clothing market share as its first-quarter sales slipped and creditors approved CVA proposals from retailer Monsoon Accessorize. 

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