Burmese factories were reported in the Thai press on March 13 to be claiming their industry “did not accept the use of child labour”, which had been alleged by Dutch activists a month earlier.
Before a March 14-15 meeting in Chile planned to review next steps after US withdrawal from the TPP, other negotiating partners – plus China, Korea and Colombia – shared views on future possibilities.
“Previously, there were only 300 garment factories in Myanmar. Now, there are over 400 garment factories in Myanmar thanks to the lifting of economic sanctions,” said Khin Maung Aye, chair of the Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association (MGEA) on March 8.
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.
Fast Retailing published its “core supplier list” on February 28. The list includes 146 suppliers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Vietnam, but no indication of how the company defines “core”, or what kind of supplier relations have not been disclosed.
Burmese media reported on February 28 that around 500 workers at the H&M-supplying, Chinese owned, Hundred Tex garment factory in the Shwe Lin Ban industrial zone, Yangon, had been locked out after the factory was “temporarily closed to carry out repairs on equipment and furniture” damaged in a worker riot.
The seventeenth round of talks between the sixteen countries currently interested in developing the Pacific-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) began in Kobe, Japan on February 27.
The government in Myanmar has set up a new committee on minimum wages, local media reported on February 23.
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.
Taiwan’s Makalot announced on February 9 a double-edged policy on the US in its 2017 “$5 bn – $10 bn” worldwide investment plans.
The state-owned Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has recommended constructing garment factories in Rakhine State, where the marginalised Muslim population is subject to severe persecution. A local politician, U Aung Than Tin, suggested an 1,800 acre area beside the highway from Rangoon to Sitwe township.
US apparel imports (in square metres) grew 3.4% in December 2016 over December 2015, though falls in the previous six months a 2016 annual fall of 1.1%.
“Trump may have killed the TPP, and while Vietnam’s textile and garment industry may be affected there are still benefits to be had,” says one real businessman.
Foreign media and Vietnamese businesses almost unanimous in complaining about effect on Vietnamese apparel industry of US abandoning TPP negotiations. But even the Vietnamese admit that its apparel industry exports grew 5.2% in 2016. This, they believe, compares with: