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US Asks WTO For Help
Page 1

EU to Standardize Clothing Sizes
Page 1

US President Loses Power to 'Fast-Track' Deals
Page 1

The Bra(g)
Page 2

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by ASA
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The American Red Cross

     July 15, 2007                                        Issue #197


24/24

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US Asks WTO for Help
The US has called on the World Trade Organization for help in deciding whether Chinese subsidies flout global trade rules.
The Office of the United States Representative said it had taken the decision after two rounds of talks with China had failed to resolve the issue. 
The US is concerned "about China's apparent use of trade-distorting subsidies that it pledged to eliminate upon joining the World Trade Organization," USTR spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement.
Many US manufacturers and trade groups blame Chinese government subsidies and currency manipulation for the widening trade gap with that country. 
The US trade deficit with China grew $14.1bn in the first five months of 2007 according to official figures published on July 12. 
The January to May US trade deficit with China totalled $96.34bn, up from $82.23 billion for the same time period last year - an increase of 17.16%. And at its current pace, the US trade deficit with China will exceed $270bn in 2007, dramatically up from last year's record of $232bn. 
Under WTO rules, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the US request for a dispute settlement panel at its next meeting on July 24. 
Mexico also plans to file a request for a WTO panel.


13/24  


PTEA Fighting 20% Freight
           Rate Hike
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has hit out at a 20% hike in ocean shipping freight rates.
It said the increase had been imposed by members of the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh-Ceylon shipping line Conference (IPBCC) from July 1, lifting transportation costs by between $200-$400 per container.
The IPBCC lines would now charge $1250 for a 20ft container and $2400 for a 40ft container.
The PTEA warned that the hike would affect the cost effectiveness of its members' production output and the competitiveness of their goods on global markets.
Pakistan's exporters in general have called for the creation of more competition in the ocean shipping sector in order to curb the "monopoly" that some operators currently enjoy.


20/24   

      Thailand's Currency 
Threatens Apparel Industry
Up to 300,000 apparel industry jobs could be lost if Thailand's 
currency continues to rise against the dollar, industry sources 
warned on July 13.
Phongsak Assakul, president of the Thai Textile Manufacturing 
Association, told the Bangkok Post that unless the government acts 
soon, the industry was heading for a crisis.
The baht has already risen 7% against the greenback this year, on top 
of a 12% rise in 2006, making clothing exports less competitive.
Garment exports have fallen 5.7% during the first five months of 
2007.
The Thai government is due to meet representatives from the private 
sector next week to talk about the currency surge.
    


17/24              Photographed by Michael Brouwer

US President Lost Power to
     'Fast-Track' Deals
US President George W Bush has lost his power to 'fast-track' international trade deals without intervention by Congress.
The so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which allows Congress to agree on trade agreements with a 'yes' or 'no' vote, without amendments, expired on June 30.
The president will now have trouble making new trade deals, probably for the rest of his term, and there are no guarantees that the legislation will be enacted for the next president either.
More than 100 bilateral trade negotiations are currently under way between the US and its trading partners. Free trade agreements with South Korea, Peru and Panama have already been signed under TPA, and are expected to be approved by Congress later this year. 
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is calling on Congress to renew trade promotion authority, "to give us greater access to foreign markets for US exports and a wider and more inexpensive selection of consumer goods afforded by US imports."
"Without TPA, America is abandoning its leadership role on trade relations and ensuring that the international community will move forward with regional and bi-lateral trade agreements without us," said AAFA president and CEO, Kevin M Burke. 
"As a result, US citizens - be they workers, farmers or consumers - will miss out on opportunities to enjoy the benefits of international trade." 
However, Democrats argue that free trade agreements have led to US job losses and record US trade deficits.

              
9/12
  
Creora's Eco Fabric Range
Hyosung Corporation's Creora elastane brand has launched a range of eco-friendly fabrics for intimate apparel, seamless garments, socks and hosiery, sports apparel and ready-to-wear.
The collection has been designed to reduce waste and pollutants through the use of sustainable fibers such as organic cotton, linen, bamboo, soya and Seacell (Lyocell) and even recycled polyester. 
Creora elastane fibers are also said to have environmental benefits since they are low heat settable and lower temperature fabric finishing reduces energy costs, oil usage, and by definition CO2 emissions. 
Creora black elastane helps ensure garments deliver a deep black color and reduces need for dyeing and finishing chemicals, while Creora H-350 is intended for polyester blends and can be dyed at high temperatures with less dyestuff. 


15/24

EU to Standardize Clothing
                    Sizes
A draft standard being developed by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) could harmonize traditional sizing practices within the European clothing industry, enabling clothing retailers to sell clothing across Europe without changing designs or labels.
The proposals have created something of an uproar amongst right-wing nationalist tabloids in the UK, because the proposals would being to an end Britain's comparatively rigid size 4 to 32 dress sizing system, based on fixed hip and bust sizes. 
Under a proposed draft standard under discussion by CEN's technical committee 248 on textiles and textile products, dress labels would carry metric sizing information on bust, height, hip and waist size for a particular garment, ending the UK sizing system. 
Other differing national systems within Europe, such as those in place in Scandinavia, Germany and France (which are closer to the CEN proposals) would also be scrapped, as would Ireland's system - which is close to the British set-up. 
Harmonized metric sizing systems would also be established for other clothes, such as skirts, where waist and hip measurements would be given and shirts, which would be sold by chest size, maybe with additional information on height and arm-length (in Britain they are currently sold by neck-size). 
"With harmonization, we would have free trade of clothes across Europe, with a commonsense system", said Frank Moore, the British chairman of the CEN technical committee. 
"Other countries in Europe are very keen, more so than the UK." He said pan-European retailers such as H&M and Zara were pushing hard for harmonization. 
Once the technical committee has agreed a draft, it will be presented to the main CEN, which could adopt it by qualified majority voting. 
Once a European standard is approved, it must be adopted by affiliated national standards bodies such as UK's BSI. And although all such standards are voluntary, international European businesses such as the clothing sector usually follow the lead set by CEN and its national partners. 


10/12
Indus Garments Bought by
          Indus Fila
Indian fashion and textile manufacturer Indus Fila Ltd has bought a 51% stake in Indus Garments Pvt Ltd for INR93.5m (US$2.3m).
Indus Garments is an established apparel manufacturer that makes 3.6m garments a year and exports more than 96% of its products to customers in the US and Europe. 
The acquired company made a profit of INR46.4m on turnover of INR899m in fiscal 07.

           
6/12

US Trade Deficit Down 
         7% This Year
The US trade deficit widened to $60bn in May, up 2.3% on April's $58.7bn, driven by the rising cost of crude oil imports. 
But despite this month's rise, the overall US trade deficit is down 7% this year compared to last as the US dollar hit rock bottom against the Euro and other currencies.
In contrast, the US trade deficit with China grew $14.1bn or 17.2% in the first five months of 2007 to $96.34bn, up from $82.23bn for the same January to May period last year.
At its current pace, the US trade deficit with China is on track to exceed $270bn in 2007, dramatically up from last year's record of $232bn.
           

5/6  
     Models Under 16 to be 
   Banned From Fashion 
         Week Catwalk
Banning ultra-thin models from the runways might be the next fashion trend, but it's one that the fashion industry in London is in no hurry to follow. 
The Model Health Inquiry -- a panel of British fashion industry workers and an eating disorder specialist -- made no recommendation on ultra-thin models in an interim report. It did recommend banning models under age 16 from the Fashion Week catwalk shows, saying the youngest were particularly vulnerable to eating disorders and sexual exploitation. 
The British Fashion Council, a consortium of fashion retailers and publishers that oversees Fashion Week, formed the panel in January to promote healthy fashion models during the Fashion Weeks in September and February. Fashion bosses in Paris and New York have also declined to ban ultra-skinny models from their catwalks. 
However, in Rome, designer Raffaella Curiel barred 15 models from her show because they were too skinny, complying with a fashion code signed by the Italian industry last year to combat anorexia, a news reports said. 
The fashion industry has drawn criticism for hyping the super-thin look, which critics say promotes eating disorders among young women. In the past year, the Uruguayan sisters Eliana and Luisel Ramos, both models, each reportedly died of anorexia-linked heart attacks. Anorexia was also blamed for the death of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston last year. 
The Madrid fashion show bans women whose body mass-to-height ratio is below 18, while Milan bans models below 18.5. The London panel said the body mass formula, known as the Body Mass Index, is not a foolproof way to identify eating disorders. 
Dee Doocey, the culture, fashion and tourism spokeswoman on London's city council, described the interim report as a "huge disappointment" and called for a ban on models with a BMI of less than 18.5. 
"I accept that BMI bans may not be the panacea, but it would be a principled start and send a strong signal to the industry that practices that put young women's health at risk will not be tolerated," she said. 
The report focuses on developing a healthy "backstage environment" for models, including protection from unhealthy eating or drug habits. It does not recommend any definite actions. 
"Banning weight and banning size is not going to help us," said Adrienne Key, an eating disorders expert and the panel's health industry representative. 
Denise Kingsmill, the panel's chairwoman, acknowledged that there were not many models under 16. 
"But there shouldn't be any. I cannot think of another group of workers who are as young, vulnerable, or as underrepresented as these girls," she said. 
The British Fashion Council has not said it will implement its panel's recommendations. But Hilary Riva, the council's chief executive, said the report's recommendations "are consistent with and support the BFC's already well-established policy." 
The final report will be prepared in September and the council is expected to implement it. 

 
                             
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