Blog: Leonie BarrieUS trade legislation hangs by a thread

Leonie Barrie | 16 June 2015

Efforts to move forward on key pieces of US trade legislation intensified last week. A package of measures to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and extend the Haiti HELP/HOPE programme was approved by the US House of Representatives – although it now needs to return to the Senate for another vote.

While the debate continues, we asked whether a stable AGOA will help Africa's apparel industry? Or whether efforts to re-energise US apparel imports from Africa are masking the bigger challenge of finding alternative suppliers.

Likewise, legislation seen as key to paving the way for a fast-track vote on the long-awaited Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) failed to get House approval. But analysts say apparel supply chains are already shifting in anticipation of TPP, and are optimistic the fast-track trade legislation will be passed.

New legislation in China is likely to impact textile finishers as they struggle to comply with the government’s ‘Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan’

And support seems to be growing for the German-led Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, with mail order giant Otto Group the latest to join the initiative which it hopes to elevate to an international level.

The goal tallies with plans by the G7 group of leading industrial nations to strive for more responsible global supply chains in the textile and ready-made garment sector – including the launch of a new fund to help improve working conditions and compensate victims.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) says it "stands ready" to help the Cambodian Government with its draft law on trade unions, after labour rights groups expressed their fears that it "fails to meet international standards."

And the organic cotton market is growing once more, after three consecutive years of declining production.

There’s no doubt the fashion industry is changing - faster than ever - as firms face intense pressure to produce more styles in less time, without losing sight of quality, fit and cost. Helping unravel this complexity is Lectra, which is focusing its expertise and software on making sure brands, retailers and manufacturers have the tools to deliver into the future.

And fully integrated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which combine RFID inlays with all critical printed data and graphics into a single ticket, are sparking a surge of interest from apparel retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and their global suppliers.

In other news, JCrew has replaced its head of design and plans to cut around 10% of its corporate workforce; Lands’ End has bolstered its merchandising, design and supply chain teams; and African heads of state have agreed plans to create a free trade area covering 26 member states and stretching from Cape Town to Cairo.

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