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November 1, 2007
Women's Wear Journal
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New Addition to the McPete
Well for many of you who saw me waddling around the Lingerie Americas show
in NYC in August, or who have spoken to me in the past few months -- here is
the news you were waiting for:
Mason Charles Briggs was born on October 24 by c-section. He
weighed 9lbs and was 22-3/4 inches long. The baby and I are both healthy and happy. Mike
and I are enjoying parenthood very much even though we are sleep deprived.
Chinese Import Quotas Not
Helping South Africa
Restrictions on imports of Chinese clothing imports into South Africa have done little to help the South African clothing sector to regain its
competitiveness according to new research.
The two-year agreement to limit Chinese clothing imports on 31 product lines began on January 1, 2007 and will run until December 31, 2008.
Its aim is to slow surging clothing imports from China, as well as provide an opportunity for the South African clothing sector to regain
However, a report by the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (Tralac) suggests that while the value of imports from China has gone down by 40% in the selected quota lines in the six months to June 2007, countries like Pakistan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Vietnam and the UK have increased their exports to the country.
The results also suggest the local garment industry has failed to respond to the challenge, and that local retailers are simply switching to alternative sources, including other countries in the Far East.
There are also fears that Chinese manufacturers are targeting higher value-add product lines not restricted by quotas.
The researchers caution that the results may not show definitive patterns because they cover such a short timeframe, and that trade data between South Africa and Lesotho, a likely source of compensatory supply, is not readily available.
WTO Rules Against US'
The World Trade Organization has upheld a ruling that the US failed to axe illegal subsidies paid to its cotton farmers - a decision that could mean billions of dollars worth of retaliatory sanctions against US products.
The WTO compliance panel upheld the findings from an interim report released in July.
The investigation was brought about by Brazil, after it accused the US of not obeying a ruling made in 2004.
Brazil believes the US paid out $12.5bn of subsidies to farmers between 1999 and 2003.
Moreover, Brazil alleged that the US has kept its position as the world's second-biggest cotton producer because of the subsidies.
The US, however, maintains it has made the changes necessary and that it has been complying with all WTO rules.
In particular, President George W Bush signed a new trade act in February 2006 repealing the so-called Step 2 program. This meant that US exporters and manufacturers would no longer receive an incentive for buying higher-priced cotton from US cotton growers.
Washington can still appeal the verdict.
by Lawrence O. Brown
Bangladesh's Apparel July Exports 31% Below Target
Apparel exports from Bangladesh in July fell 31% below targets, according to the latest figures from the country's Export Promotion Bureau.
Exports of woven garments in July, the first month of the fiscal year, were US$345m, a 24% drop on the same month last year.
Knitwear shipments came in at US$347m, 23% lower than in July 2006.
New Rules Limit EU
Chinese officials have introduced a number of new restrictions for textile and apparel companies seeking to export to the EU next year, as part of measures intended to prevent a surge of shipments once temporary quotas are lifted on December 31.
The China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textiles, China National Textile and Apparel Council, and China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment, announced plans on October 17, one week after the European Commission confirmed it would lift existing quotas but would monitor imports from China for one year from January
The monitoring measure does not limit how much China can export, but relies instead on a "joint import surveillance" scheme to track Chinese export licenses and European export permits in eight categories - T-shirts, pullovers, men's trousers, blouses, dresses, bras, bed linen and flax yarn.
To qualify for these export licenses, the Ministry of Commerce will require companies to have a registered capital of more than RMB500,000, a two-year track record in exports, and to have exported more than US$10,000 worth of textiles and clothing to the EU in the last year.
In addition, the companies must be a member of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textiles, and have had no intellectual property rights or environmental protection violations in the past three years.
Gap's Child Labor
US clothing retailer Gap Inc has called an urgent meeting with its suppliers in India after child
labor was found in factory producing a product for the GapKids label.
In a statement issued following the allegations, Gap said it had launched an
investigation after children were found working in an unauthorized facility that produced a single product for the retailer.
It said the allegations involved a "very small portion of a particular order" which one of its vendors had "subcontracted to an
unauthorized subcontractor without the company's knowledge or approval" - in direct
violation of Gap's Code of Vendor Conduct.
Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, said in a statement: "We strictly prohibit the use of child
labor. This is a non-negotiable for us - and we are deeply concerned and upset by this allegation."
She added that Gap intended to tackle the problem "head-on," and that the retailer has already stopped the work order and will not sell the
product in its stores.
A newspaper claimed children as young as ten were making Gap clothes at a sweatshop in New Delhi, working up to 16 hours a day hand-sewing garments.
The children said they had been sold to the sweatshop by their families and
would not be allowed to leave until they had repaid the fees.
Gap Inc, has one of the industry's most comprehensive programs in place to fight for workers' rights overseas - and is also one of the industry's most transparent companies as far as its social responsibility efforts are
The San Francisco-based company, which owns the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, has 90 people inspecting the factories that make its clothes and last year stopped doing business with 23 factories due to code violations.
In its latest Social Responsibility report the retailer acknowledges progress is being made to improve the working conditions at many factories in its supply chain, but said more factories in India require "urgent attention" than before.
It believes this is due, in part, "to the fact that the region experienced a
sudden increase in production and suppliers did not have the capacity to
handle the increased workload."
The retailer is also working hard to change its own buying practices so that factories aren't overwhelmed with last-minute orders or changes to production plans.
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