August’s fastest single month rich country garment industry growth, and China’s steady share, challenge the beliefs that the West is losing its attraction for garment makers and that China is pricing itself out of the market. The edition challenges a number of other beliefs, too
“Fastest ever” rich-country August apparel import growth
A turnround in European apparel retail trends, and healthy ordering by US buyers, created the fastest single-month annual growth in the volume of rich-country garment imports we have yet recorded. China’s share remained virtually unchanged year on year (51.6% this August vs 52% last), while the substantial growth was in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam
Bangladesh rehabilitation clicking into shape: India’s revival looking patchy
By mid-October, a number of key pieces in the complex jigsaw of reforms necessary in Bangladesh for wage rises, union recognition, factory inspections, and better training began to click into place, f. Late September wage riots, first apparently showing unions’ impotence, demonstrated how quickly apparently “wildcat” strikers could be got back to work once unions wanted tem back.
Though India’s garment exports are growing, helped by devaluation, Indian businesses complain about the cost of key imported components, like dyestuffs – and growing demand for yarn from China appears to be inflating the cost for local buyers of essential raw materials.
Indian lobbyists’ claims that foreign buyers are leaving Bangladesh for India consistently fail to be supported in Indian or Bangladeshi trade data
Host governments start looking less accommodating
Observers blamed Indian regulations for Walmart’s decision to call off its Indian superstore plans, while Orient Craft blamed India’s decision to tax new textile projects like every other business for its pulling out of a “$200 mn” textile park. Mexico is close to imposing te same profit tax and VAT regime on maquiladoras as on all other businesses. Vietnam’s revenue collectors think most foreign owned factories are tax-dodging, and Bangladesh’s thinks buying textile machinery is a front for money-laundering
Limited overseas awareness of America’s new financial prudence
The US government shutdown delayed progress on the EU-US FTA and on Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, but seems to have caused little other effect on trade – but Pakistanis and South Africans seem unaware of America’s new hostility to spending money. The Philippines seem to have finally realised it, thou. Canada and EU finally seal trade deal.
Compliance consortia boom – but effectiveness in doubt
New major buyers joined theBangladesh Accord – but a fatal fire broke out in a mill owned by an Accord-listed supplier, and working for Accord members. Others joined the pledge to boycott Uzbek cotton – but China and Bangladesh are reported to have bought almost all the 2013 harvest. M&S seems to have left the Sustainable Apparel Consortium
The ILO has agreed to launch its Better Factories programme in Bangladesh, and Pakistani factory owners want one. But the programme got into public argumrnts in Cambodia with a trade association accusing it of excessive openness, and in Haiti with activists accusing it of blindness to claims factories are cheating on minimum wage policies.
And little buyer reaction to Living Wage Week – though Patagonia says it will lauch Fair Trade Certified garments next year
Onshoring gets costly
Interest in onshoring continues on both sides of the Atlantic. But few net new jobs are created, as workers prove tough to find, and wages are growing. The result is some very costly, highly mechanised, new plants.
Cross-border textile investments take new directions
Cross-border textile investments spurted in October. Texhong confirmed new investments in Turkey and Uruguay, Gildan in the US, Karim’s in Nicaragua, Indorama in Uzbekistan and Makalot in Vietnam. But no news about a customer for ITG’s unwanted Vietnamese business
Asian retailing loses its charm
Walmart, Macy’s and Tesco follow Neiman Marcus in going cool on Chinese expansion, as rumours fly about Vancl’s financial stability. Walmart backs away from Indian superstores. But C&A belies earlier rumours by expanding Brazil presence, as Gap and Forever 21 move in – just after Inditex