Brands and Retailers Call
for Action on Factory Safety Representatives from more than 40 apparel brands and retailers have called for a credible action plan to
address workplace safety in the Bangladesh clothing sector as the death toll from last week's Rana Plaza building
collapse climbs to 386.
They have also urged the government to play a more proactive role in setting standards for the construction
of factory buildings - and proposed the formation of a committee comprising buyers, garment owners and government
officials to deal with workplace safety, including building construction.
The buyers' concerns were raised at a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters
Brands and retailers represented at the meeting included H&M, JCPenney, Walmart, C&A, Gap, G-Star, Inditex, Levi's,
Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Target, New Wave, Li & Fung, Nike, Primark, Sears and New Look.
Following claims that building codes were not followed during factory construction, the BGMEA is in the process
of collecting structural design details for all garment factories.
In light of the current situation it has also asked buyers to extend shipment times and not to impose penalties on
manufacturers for delayed deliveries.
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EU Lifts Sanctions
Against Burma The European Union (EU) has lifted the last of its trade
and economic sanctions against Burma/Myanmar in response to what it describes as "the remarkable process of reform"
that has taken place in the country over the past two years.
The decision, taken at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, will not include the embargo on arms sales, which will be
Catherine Ashton, who chaired the meeting in her capacity as EU High Representative, said that relations between the
European Union and Burma were entering a "new chapter".
However, the EU warned there are still "significant challenges" that need to be addressed by Burma, including
issues such as ethnic violence, human rights, and the transition to a full democracy.
It also stressed the need to "encourage responsible trade and investment while promoting transparency and
The European Commission last September took a step towards reinstating trade preferences for Burma/Myanmar, in a move
that would give products such as clothing duty- and quota-free access to the European market for the first
time since 1997.
The plan is to bring the country back under the so-called 'Everything But Arms' trade regime, which is part of the
EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It applies to Burma because it is classified as a Least Developed
Country (LDC) by the United Nations.
Yesterday it pledged that a "swift reinstatement" of the GSP to Myanmar/Burma will contribute to the EU's policy of
supporting the economic reforms.
"As a next step, the EU will explore the feasibility of a bilateral investment agreement," it added.
The EU's move comes a year after it decided to temporarily suspend most of its sanctions against Burma/Myanmar.
The country has taken progressive steps over the past year to improve human rights and implement democratic reforms.
These steps have resulted in, among other things, the election of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to the legislature.
However, EU trade data shows that textile and clothing imports from Burma have fallen from EUR134.48m or 10,058
tons in 2010, to EUR132.52m or 8,743 tons in 2011, and EUR110.92m or 6,273 tons in 2012.
And Clothesource CEO Mike Flanagan believes the EU's decision to drop most remaining anti-Burma sanctions
"won't stimulate European garment imports from Burma."
He notes: "The foreign ministers' decision means an almost immediate removal in the average 12% import duty imposed
on Burmese-made garments."
But adds: "This will not dramatically change Burma's poor competitiveness. Poor labor
productivity, an increasingly uncompetitive exchange rate, power shortages and inadequate transport make it a relatively expensive place
to make garments: prices per square meter of garments imported into the EU from Burma in 2012 were 12% higher
than those from China, and almost twice prices from Bangladesh."
The EU's move could also put pressure on the United States, which last July eased financial and investment
sanctions against Burma, allowing the first new US investment in the Asian country for nearly 15 years.
In November the US also lifted a decade-long ban on most imports from Burma, in a move that is likely to boost the
country's garment industry. Before the import ban was imposed in 2003, garments made up the country's largest
exports to the US.
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First Round of FTA Talks
Between Europe and
Japan a "Success" The European Commission has hailed the first round of Free
Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with Japan as a success.
"It's been a good start," said Mauro Petriccione, director in the European Commission's Directorate General for
Trade, after the talks held in Brussels. "This is a big negotiation with some difficult issues, but I am confident
we can make good progress in the months to come."
The aim is for a comprehensive agreement in goods, services and investment eliminating tariffs, non-tariff
barriers and covering other trade-related issues, such as public procurement, regulatory issues, competition, and
An agreement between the Japan and Europe is expected to boost Europe's economy by 0.6-0.8% of its GDP and will
result in growth and the creation of 400.000 jobs. It is expected that EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7%,
while Japanese exports to the EU would increase by 23.5%.
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Wearing Fever Photo
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6/6 10,000+ Workers Protested
in Bangladesh Thousands of garment workers went on the rampage in the Savar and Gazipur industrial districts on April 29,
shortly after factories resumed production following a two-day closure over the weekend.
The violence prompted a number of owners to shutter their factories for the day.
On Monday afternoon, more than 10,000 ready-made garment workers from at least 50 garment factories blocked 10km of
the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for two hours. And more than 5,000 workers staged a demonstration at the Joydebpur
Security has been stepped up to prevent further trouble around the apparel production belt where more than 300
garment factories are located.
Protestors blame the Rana Plaza tragedy on the lack of punishment meted out following previous industrial
incidents such as the fire at Tazreen Fashion and the collapse of the Spectrum garment factory.
Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, was arrested on Sunday, along with four owners of the
garment factories housed in the Plaza and two engineers connected with the case.
The death toll has so far reached 381, with another 2,437 people pulled out alive from the debris of the building.
Meanwhile, there have been renewed calls for better Bangladesh worker safety, and more retailers have respond
to claims they were sourcing from the collapsed factories.
Self-love is the best love... So where is it?
Ha, in this industry, one may believe that I am referring to toys, but not this time! I am talking about self-image. Self-esteem. Self-confidence.
Why do we all have such a tough time loving ourselves?
If you haven't already seen Dove's latest feel good "love yourself" campaign, they hired a forensic artist to sketch women based on their own descriptions of themselves, without seeing them. He then drew them again based upon the description a stranger gave... My explanation does not give it justice - check it out here! (Warning - you may want tissues!)
Were you surprised? I am guessing not.
However, if you put yourself in the shoes of the women who were drawn, I bet you would be.
But why? Why do we seem so focused on the negative? Is it just about our appearance, or everything about us. The old adage says "We are all our own worst critic." Why?!
I challenge you this May to write a compliment about yourself on a post-it and stick it to your mirror, or on a strip of paper, and put it in a jar. It will probably be harder at first, but hopefully it'll get easier! Find me on social media or email me, and let me know how it goes.
And don't do it for me. Don't even do it for you! Do it for your family and friends, for those around you! As the very wise Ru Paul says - "If you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?"
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Burma & Laos Considered
for GSP Benefits The US is considering whether to designate Burma and Laos as beneficiary countries under the Generalized System of
Preferences (GSP) scheme, and whether they would also qualify for least-developed country (LDC) status.
A review initiated by the Office of the US Trade Representative is seeking public comments and a public
hearing on whether the two countries meet the criteria for both designations.
The GSP program provides duty-free treatment of designated articles imported from a "beneficiary
developing country." Additional trade benefits under the GSP are available to countries designates as a
"least-developed beneficiary developing country."
Most textiles, apparel and footwear are not eligible for GSP duty-free treatment.
Burma was previously designated a developing country under GSP but its trade benefits were suspended from July 1,
1989 over worker rights issues. Laos has not previously been considered for eligibility for GSP trade benefits.
The governments of the two countries have each expressed an interest in being considered eligible for GSP trade
benefits, the USTR said.
A public hearing on the issue has been set for June 4, in Washington, DC, with comments and requests to be submitted
no later than May 17.