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US & Colombia Sign Free Trade Agreement
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December 15, 2006
Women's Wear Journal
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US & Colombia Sign
The US has sealed a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia which
aims to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.
Both countries have passed the agreement to their legislatures for approval after it was signed by deputy US Trade Representative John
Veroneau and Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Jorge Humberto Botero in Washington.
The FTA promises to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services and expand trade between the two parties, said US Trade
Representative Susan Schwab.
The agreement will offer new opportunities for US "businesses, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers," and provide Colombia with
"permanent access to the US market, which will aid in sustaining real growth, creating more jobs and attracting new investment," said
The agreement has been endorsed by several US trade groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of
Manufacturers and the National Council of Textile Organizations.
The agreement will allow for duty- and quota-free access to both countries' textile markets, provided the products meet the
agreement's rules of origin provisions. It will expand access for US providers to Colombia's services markets, such as in the financial
sector. There will be greater protection in Colombia for intellectual property rights of US products and more protection for
US patents and trademarks and more public access to Colombian government information about customs requirements.
In 2005, the US was Colombia's largest trading partner with two-way goods trade between the two countries amounting to US$14.3bn.
Greenwood to Cut 160
Woven fabrics maker Greenwood plans to lay off 160 workers by
According to chief executive James Self, the layoffs will leave the company’s South Carolina plant with just 70 employees.
115-year-old Greenwood shut two plants in 2001 and also eradicated 100 positions from the Matthews plant.
The company is family owned and makes fabrics for use in the apparel, home furnishings industrial and military markets.
Hanesbrands Cuts Supplier
US intimate apparel maker Hanesbrands has axed a supplier contract in
Bangladesh, blaming violations of working hours and pay conditions.
Officials from the company made two visits to the supplier, Harvest Rich Ltd, following accusations from by a human rights group that
children as young as 11 were working long hours there.
Hanesbrands, said, however, that it found no indication of child labor on its five-day inspections.
It also admitted that it had already decided it would stop buying underwear from the firm because it was switching to bigger suppliers.
But Harvest Rich was "deliberately keeping inaccurate records to conceal excessive working hours for employees, and delaying overtime
payments to employees," according to a statement.
Floreal Knitwear Cuts 800
Mauritian manufacturer Floreal Knitwear has made 800 workers
redundant and shuttered three production units.
Floreal is currently restructuring its operations, and took the decision because
labor costs in Mauritius are higher than those in countries such as China and Bangladesh.
"The latter are bringing strong pressure to bear on market prices and are making it difficult for the maintenance of production in a
country like Mauritius, hence the reason why the greatest part of Floreal Knitwear`s production is located in its units in Madagascar,"
by J. Vrstal
From Wearing Counterfeit
The Chinese province of Jilin has banned its residents from
wearing counterfeit clothes when they travel overseas to avoid being seen
to flout intellectual property rights, according to local media.
The north-eastern province’s government has also ordered citizens not to
carry or send pirated goods to foreign countries.
"Jilin government ... requests the carrying out of a strict crackdown
and regulation of counterfeit goods and discs sent by post or carried
overseas. Wearing counterfeit brands overseas is also not permitted,"
an official notice reportedly said.
"Infringement of intellectual property rights in importing and
exporting seriously damages the government's image."
Despite promises to tackle its booming trade in fake goods, pirated
garments, CDs and other goods are still available widely on China's street
27 Hurt in Bangladesh
At least 27 garment workers were hurt as a result of a factory fire
on Friday, December 5.
The fire at the BHT plant in Naujore, Sadar Upazila, was caused by a short circuit, said sources.
The blaze also destroyed yarn and machinery.
Protests at Concorde Plant
Workers from Saipan's largest garment production plant, Concorde
Garment Manufacturing Incorporated, have been protesting against plans to shut down the business.
Many of the threatened workers traveled from China to take on their jobs.
They have now ended a hunger strike in protest against the plans but some workers are still refusing to work until they get tax rebates
owed to them plus reimbursement of recruiter fees.
Concorde said that it will shut down the plant in February, making it the twelfth Saipan factory to close since January, when quotas on
textile shipments to the US ended.
Burlington Coat Advertised
Real Fur As Fake
Burlington Coat Factory has admitted to selling a jacket trimmed with
real fur which it had advertised as fake.
The company claims it did not know the trim on the Baby Phat-branded jackets was made of real fur and has agreed to remove the garment
from its stores.
It will also refund customers who bought the coat believing the fur was fake and has agreed to discuss its fur policy with The Humane
Society of the US (HSUS).
"We are pleased that Burlington Coat Factory is taking steps to remove its inaccurate advertisements," said Wayne Pacelle, president
and CEO of HSUS.
"But HSUS is now asking Burlington to examine its entire policy of selling fur trim, given that fashionable and functional faux fur
alternatives are readily available to the company. It's a matter of social responsibility and a concern for the welfare of animals."
The jackets contain internal labels stating that they are trimmed with raccoon and coyote fur from China.
"Retailers often don't know what they are getting, and consumers often can't tell whether they are buying dog or raccoon, real or
faux. Congress should pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act to ensure that all fur-trimmed garments are properly
labeled and that consumers have the best product information available."
This is not the first occasion Burlington has been slammed for its use of fur. Back in 1998, it admitted to selling Chinese-produced
parkas trimmed with dog fur which it claimed to have thought was coyote fur.
Numerous retailers in the US and Europe have turned their backs on fur in the past few years. “Go to any high street and you won’t see
fur on sale in the majority of shops,” Animal Aid campaigner Fiona Pereira said.
But a handful of designers aside, fur has seen a large-scale resurgence on catwalks in recent seasons and has started spreading
onto trims and into accessories.
Laid Off Gina Form Bra Workers Receive Severance
Factory owner Clover Group has sealed a pay deal with workers at its
closed Gina Form Bra Factory in Bangkok, Thailand.
The workers, who made goods for companies including Limited Brands, had campaigned to keep the
unionized factory open after learning Clover was planning to shut it down and shift production to China or
Clover nevertheless shut the factory in October, but, after a long line of negotiations, has now agreed to pay all outstanding bonuses
and legally required severance pay as well as about three-and-a-half months’ additional salary above the legal minimum severance pay for
The total package was worth approximately $1.6M.
Though Clover Group always claimed to have offered and/or paid legally-mandated severance, the union insisted the company
fulfill its outstanding contractual obligations, such as annual bonuses and
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