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March 1, 2009
The McPete Sez
Lingerie Newsletter & Women's Wear Journal
US Apparel Group Criticizes
A US apparel group has condemned a clause in the 2009 appropriations bill that could lead to monitoring of
apparel imports from China and Vietnam.
The bill, which the House of Representatives approved February 25, and the Senate is expected to consider
imminently, includes language that allows the Commerce Department "to undertake apparel import
monitoring, focusing on prices of imports from China and Vietnam and whether their state-run industries are illegally
pricing products and dumping in the US market."
However, the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, which represents US importers
and retailers, is calling on Congress to reject this clause.
"There is absolutely no factual basis for such monitoring," says its executive director Laura E
Similar language was included in a House appropriations report last year, at the request of US
yarn and fabric makers seeking evidence that imports may be dumped. However, although this report came out
last summer, it was never enacted.
It was followed, though, by a decision by the International Trade Commission (ITC) in November to
monitor China's imports during the coming year in response to a request from Charles B Rangel,
chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
As a result, since January 1, 2009, the ITC has been providing statistical reports every two weeks on the
volume, value, unit value, and import market share of some textile and apparel items shipped to the US from
However, trade expert Brenda A Jacobs, an attorney at Sidley Austin LLP, believes the latest move may be
opposed by the House Committee on Ways and Means since it appears to completely disregard their actions,
which were instigated at the behest of the US textile industry.
"Textile groups now seem to be saying they don't want objective data - they want the ability to exert
political pressure," she said.
The Bush Administration monitored apparel imports from Vietnam for almost two years, but abandoned the scheme
in January after finding no evidence of dumping.
Monitoring does, however, have significant implications for trade, not only adding uncertainties
to sourcing from China and Vietnam, but also encouraging the movement of sourcing to other
Jacobs warns the language in the current bill is particularly inflammatory because it includes the
words "state-run industries."
"That latter point is one with which many of the multinationals invested in China and Vietnam would
take strong issue," she says.
UK Online January Sales Up
Online retail spending in the UK continued to rise
during January, with the clothing, footwear and accessories sector out-performing the overall
According to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, spending in January was up 19% on last year,
compared to the 15% growth figure seen during the second half of 2008.
Monthly growth in online spending fell for the second month in a row, but the survey said this was in line
with the traditional dip in spending after Christmas.
Online sales of clothing, footwear and accessories were up 32% on last year, continuing the sector's
trend of consistently out-performing the market during 2008.
The sector also recorded the smallest fall in growth compared to December.
"The strong performance of online points to a continued need to invest in the development of
[retailers'] e-commerce propositions," said Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail for Capgemini
"The question is whether bricks and clicks retailers can prioritize this sufficiently above the defensive
strategies needed to combat tough high street trading.
"If not, the risk of widening the gap versus their pure play rivals will be inevitable."
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Cambodia's Temporary Work
Changes being proposed to Cambodia's labor law that would allow for unlimited temporary work contracts
have been criticized by the global union representing workers in the textile and clothing sector.
The changes would mean temporary contracts could be extended indefinitely, replacing the current maximum
of two years.
But Neil Kearney, general secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and
Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF), says the use of temporary contracts in Cambodia "has had a very
negative impact on worker rights in our sector."
Not only do such contracts enable employers to get rid of trade union leaders by simply failing to renew
their temporary contracts, but contracts of less than one year enable employers to avoid benefits such as
maternity and sick leave.
The Ministry of Labor has responded to lobbying by the private sector by drafting proposed amendments to
And already "a number of garment manufacturers have reportedly already began switching from permanent to
temporary contracts," Kearney warns.
The ITGLWF is calling on brands participating in the Better Factories
Program to insist their suppliers refrain from short-term employment contracts - and is
also considering a formal complaint to the International Labor Organization.
The union also argues the changes would make Cambodia less competitive from an ethical viewpoint, since
brands and retailers who are forced to cut back their orders are giving priority to suppliers that perform
the best on both production criteria and social compliance.
Nanoparticles Raise Concerns
Health concerns are growing about the use of nanoparticles in consumer products, notably textiles
and clothing, with the European Union scientific committee on emerging and newly identified health
risks raising potential problems.
Its latest detailed paper represents a hardening of concerns.
While the committee has previously highlighted the lack of knowledge about how nanoparticles could
migrate from clothing and their dyes into consumers' bodies, it is now raising tangible fears.
Its latest paper especially focused on a common type of nanoparticle called nanotubes, noting when they
have "similar characteristics as some types of
hazardous asbestos…similar inflammatory reactions can be induced by the nanotubes as asbestos."
For this to happen, nanotubes need "long thin fibrous forms (length >20 micrometer), rigidity, and
It added an inhalation risk was probably required for causing health problems, noting that "a risk for
mesothelioma [the cancer usually caused by asbestos] cannot be excluded", a particular concern for workers
processing or manufacturing nanotubes.
It also raised concern about nanosilver which has been developed for use as a biocide in products such as
Here the report highlighted a toxicity study where an "accumulation of silver was observed in all organs
examined, i.e. blood, brain, kidneys, liver, lungs, stomach and testes."
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UK's January Retail Sales
The volume of retail sales in a recession-hit UK rose
0.7% between December and January, driven by an increase in textiles, clothing and footwear stores.
According to latest figures by the Office for National Statistics, in the three months to January the
seasonally adjusted index for the volume of retail sales increased 1.5% over the previous three months
Textiles, clothing and footwear stores boosted sales 1.8% during this three month period.
Total growth increased in the three months to January compared with the same three months a year ago by
3.2%, the ONS reported.
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