When it comes to apparel-making in Britain, there’s one thing we all think we know: there isn’t very much of it. But Britain’s official trade statistics seem to tell a very different story.
Better Factories Cambodia released a report on February 22 summarising research carried out during 2015 among 50 managers and 1,500 workers in 73 Cambodian apparel factories.
“Between one-third and three-quarters of Leicester’s textiles factories are exploiting workers” claimed prominent Labour MP Harriet Harman while visiting Leicester garment factories on March 1
Calculated in square metres of fabric, UK total apparel imports in the last six months of 2016 (after the Brexit referendum and its subsequent sterling devaluation) fell just 0.3% over the same period in 2015.
For the first time in years, strong reported export growth. Though, with total apparel exports, even with 2016’s 12% growth, just €2.1 bn, Portugal remains a relatively minor supplier to the rest of the EU.
Around 3,000 workers at Egypt’s Mahalla Textile and Weaving Company reportedly started a strike on February 7, hoping to get he support of the other 12,000 workers at the complex – often claimed to be the biggest apparel and textile plant in Africa and the Middle East.
Israel’s Bagir announced their Ethiopian plant’s first completed foreign order, a trouser programme for US H&M stores.
Despite years of widely denied decline, British garment-making showed serious signs of a revival in the second half of 2015.
Businesses have begun to express concern about the cost of Jordan’s new standardised migrant worker contract, launched in April.
Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) signed a free Trade Agreement on May 29 – the EEU’s first with a country other than its own members.
EU announces review of extending its Customs Union with Turkey – but won’t let Turkey into negotiations on TTIP (which Turkey wants to join). It says it will upgrade its free trade deal with Mexico to match its deal with Canada and TTIP – but Americans and some European politicians stay sniffy about its Trade Commissioners’s views on TTIP.
The Moldovan government announced on May 6 that duty-free access to the EU would be substantially simplified by the country’s accession to the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin, which Moldova has recently agreed.
By making a new, standardised labour contract a necessity for all approvals of new migrant workers, Jordan expects all its 45,000-strong foreign apparel workforce to be on a proper contract within two years, it was revealed as the ILO presented the programme at its April 2 international buyers’ forum.