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November 15, 2006
Women's Wear Journal
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US Calls Philippine
to Protect Workers
Major US apparel companies are calling on the Philippine government
to take steps to protect striking textile workers in the country’s Cavite Export Processing Zone.
The action follows reports of alleged violent attacks by Municipal and Export Processing Zone police and assaults on
labor rights promoters.
American Eagle Outfitters, Gap Inc, Jones Apparel Group, Liz Claiborne, Phillips-Van Heusen, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Wal-Mart – all
of which buy apparel products from the Philippines – are now urging proactive
measures “for ensuring the physical safety and for protecting the rights of workers and
labor rights promoters.”
The joint letter was sent to Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the request of the Toronto-based Maquila
Solidarity Network (MSN).
It also asks the government to support investigations into the killing of Bishop Alberto Ramento, chair of the Board of Directors of
the Workers’ Assistance Centre (WAC), and the shooting of Gerardo
Cristobal, former union president and a member of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers
In a recent incident, striking workers at the Chong Won Fashion factory in the Philippine Cavite Export Processing Zone, who make
clothes for Wal-Mart, had to endure violent attacks by EPZ police, dismantling their picket line shelters, mass dismissals, and attempts
to ban them from re-entering the Zone.
US Andean Trade Laws
A group of ten textile and apparel organizations is calling on President
Bush and the Congressional leadership to approve legislation on three areas of US-Andean trade at this week’s session of Congress.
The so-called “lame duck” session applies when Congress reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Council of Textile Organizations, Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas and the Textile Distributors Association
are among those urging action on legislation implementing free-trade agreements with Peru and Colombia.
They also want legislation to be passed into law to bridge the impending gap between the expiration of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act
on December 31, and the entry into force of the US-Peru and the US-Colombia trade promotion agreements, which are likely to happen sometime in 2007.
The letter points out that while “The Andean region remains an important and growing market for US textile exports,” the overall prospects for this market remain troubled without a permanent two-way duty free partnership between the US and
Andean textile and apparel producers.
Anticipating the imminent loss of duty free access for that region – in less than 60 days – many US apparel importers have already begun to shift their business elsewhere. Over the last 12 months, US apparel imports from the region have dropped by 11%.
“Time is of the essence if we hope to retain a strong and economically vibrant textile and apparel industry in this county by ensuring a strong trade relationship with our partners in Peru and Colombia.
Nepal's Garment Exports
Down 45% to US
The export of readymade garments from Nepal to the US market has reportedly fallen by 45% during the month of October, in comparison
with the same period last year.
US$1.4m of garments were traded between the two countries last month, compared to $2.5m in October 2005.
Ruthie modeling Natalie Lace by Milili
Lingerie Classique Show in Las Vegas Oct 9-11
by J. Vrstal
to WTO Approved
Vietnam will be hoping that the approval of its accession to the World Trade
Organization will improve the access to overseas markets enjoyed by its clothing and textile exporters.
Membership means that Vietnam and its trading partners have promised to keep their mutual clothing and textile trades unimpeded by restrictive quotas.
It also will cap current textile and clothing tariffs levied by Vietnam or by other WTO members of Vietnam exports; Vietnam clothing duties are usually around 20% at present, with fabrics and yarns at between 5% and 12%.
The decision ends more than 11 years of talks, and although the United States has yet to formally accept Vietnamese membership, the outgoing lame duck US Congress could approve the move this week.
President Bush will be attending an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi on 16-19 November, and will not want to be embarrassed by a US failure to accept the decision.
It had been stalled in Congress over concerns about cheap Vietnamese exports hitting US clothing and textile producers.
But these opponents have been mollified by US Trade Representative (USTR) promises to check for cut prices imports and to launch anti-dumping proceedings when necessary.
USTR Susan Schwab said: “We now call upon Congress to quickly pass Permanent Normal Trade Relations legislation that will permit US businesses, workers and consumers to benefit fully from Vietnam’s accession.”
Another issue that Vietnam will want addressed is its recognition as a ‘free-market’ country by other WTO members.
That would mean anti-dumping calculations would use Vietnamese prices, rather than an analogue developing country, a system that has toughened resulting tariffs for Vietnamese exporters.
Ex-VF Manager Accused
of Fraud Scheme
A former VF Jeanswear regional sales manager may have been involved in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme against the firm.
No charges have so far been filed against Billy Lundsford Childress but federal authorities are looking into allegations he could have
diverted payments totaling up to US$4.8m into accounts he set up over a ten-year period.
According to the court papers, the scheme lasted from November 1994 until January 2004, just after Childress retired.
He could now face charges of bank fraud, money laundering and making
false statements to a financial institution.
Burberry to Delay Closure
Designer clothing brand Burberry is to delay the closure of its factory in Treorchy, South Wales by three months.
The company revealed details of the closure in September after a year-long review of its supply chain and manufacturing process.
At the time Burberry said the site, which makes polo shirts, was no longer commercially viable and planned to shut it down in early 2007 with the loss of more than 300 jobs.
The company has now agreed to keep production going until March 31, 2007 following meetings with union leaders.
The GMB union has organized a series of demonstrations by workers in an attempt to maintain production at the site on a permanent basis.
Pacific Sunwear Q3 Drops 78%
Pacific Sunwear reported a heavy income fall in the third quarter on
decreasing sales and excessive inventory levels.
Quarterly net income was US$9m compared to $40.5m last year while total sales were $375.4m, down from $377.5m a year ago. Same-store
sales, meanwhile, dropped 6.7%.
"Although we are disappointed with our third quarter results, we are moving aggressively in an effort to reverse the trend," said Sally
Frame Kasaks, interim CEO.
"One of my first goals as interim CEO has been to improve the appearance of our stores. To accomplish this task, we have changed
our inventory strategy to reduce overall inventory density in our stores."
Kasaks said inventory per sq ft was now down 5.6% compared to the same quarter last year.
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Creative Outlook East
Government organization UK Trade & Investment is encouraging
domestic fashion firms to expand in Japan and China as part of an event concentrated on the oriental export market.
Creative Outlook aims to give information to local designers and producers wanting to find out more about opportunities in the two
countries, including ways of doing business, cultural differences and the economic background of the two countries.
Christine Johnson, Trade & Investment creative industries sector specialist, said: "Japan and China are two very separate and distinct
markets, but both offer growing opportunities to local companies, particularly those in the creative and design sector.
"Retail sales across Japan are on the up and Japanese consumers are looking in particular for well-designed products. And the Chinese
economy has been developing exponentially since reforms were introduced in 1979."
Local designers who have spent time in the markets will explain various highlights and pitfalls of doing business there while China
Business Bureau will talk about how it is helping local businesses forge stronger links and take advantage of the opportunities in
UK Trade & Investment provides integrated support services for UK companies engaged in overseas trade and foreign enterprises focused
on the UK as an inward investment location.
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