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Duty free exports to China could boost Bangladeshs clothingProving to be a silver lining in dark clouds, China granted duty-free access to all exports from Bangladesh including apparels from July 1. This could help Bangladesh offset losses caused by around 20 per cent decline in its clothing exports this year. Knitwear exporters could benefit more from this due to the condition of 40 per cent local value addition to these exports. To explore this opportunity, Bangladesh needs to develop its manufacturing industries, break away from the limitations of industrial structure, improve the quality of export and shift to higher value-added exports, says Li Jiming, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh exported over $ 590 million worth of textiles, clothing and accessories to China in 2019. The country has the potential to export more clothing items as its production costs are much lower than those in China.

Product diversification and quality improvement needed

Bangladesh also benefits from abundant jute production. The country is the second-largest producer of jute after India and can sell this raw jute to China and India. This can help it to boost its entrepreneurs and export. According to ATM Azizul Akil, Senior Vice-President, Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the duty-free export facility provided by China would help Bangladesh minimize its massive trade deficit. However, to benefit from this, the country first needs to emphasize on product diversification and improving the quality of products. The facility does not benefit 97 per cent of Bangladesh’s products currently.

An alternative market to India

Along with duty export facilities, China has also offered ‘Change of Tariff Heading’ (CTH) facility as an alternative to the condition of 40 per cent value addition. According to this facility, if a shirt is made with imported fabric and with less than 40 per cent value addition by Bangladesh, the duty-free facility will be available under the CTH because the HS code of imported fabric is different from that of shirts, explained Mustofa Abid Khan, Member, Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission

As India has imposed various non-tariff barriers including anti-dumping duties on jute imports from Bangladesh, the county has been forced to temporarily suspend its jute exports. In such a scenario, the duty-free access provided by China provides an alternative market for Bangladesh jute exports

Value addition rules cause concern

Given all its benefits, the latest duty-free market access China offers to Bangladesh comes with a condition of 40 per cent value addition by Bangladesh to the product’s price. According to experts, this is a very stringent condition as Bangladesh can add 40 per cent value to only a few items locally. Hence, experts are unsure whether the facility would actually benefit Bangladesh or prove to be a mare’s nest.

  

Yarn Expo Autumn will feature a wide range of exhibitors at its upcoming show who have developed numerous options that cater for a new wave of demand for sustainable products.

To be held from September 23–25, 2020 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the expo will give visitors a chance to view a diverse range of raw and recycled products to satisfy consumer demand for a more sustainable industry.

International exhibitors will showcase a wide variety of yarns and fibers made from raw, sustainable materials along with recycled and regenerated products. For example, the Cotton Council International (CCI) will share its sustainability efforts by exhibiting at Yarn Expo, offering buyers quality and traceable fibers from the very beginning of the supply chain.

Yarn Expo Autumn 2020 will be held concurrently with Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics – Autumn Edition, PH Value and CHIC, providing a concentrated overview of the latest trends and developments in the textile sector, all in one place. Yarn Expo is organized by Messe Frankfurt (HK) and the Sub-Council of Textile Industry, CCPIT.

  

Japanese casual clothing chain Uniqlo is likely to report strong same-store sales for June, taking the edge off a profit plunge for owner Fast Retailing Co due to store closures and weak demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For June, JP Morgan analyst Dairo Murata forecast a 20 per cent–30 per cent jump in the brand’s domestic same-store sales, helped by demand for the company's Airism face masks, which sold out quickly after going on sale that month. Japan began lifting pandemic lockdown measures in late May.

Such a rise, following declines of 57 per cent in April and 18 per cent in May, would be the strongest sign yet of the business recovering, at least in its home market. Stores in China, a key growth market, have also reopened and people are shopping again.

While strong June sales may also highlight the company's relative strength among global fast-fashion peers, helped by its focus on practical clothes and strength in Asian markets, it may be too early to say the worst is past.

  

The import of men & boys (MB) denim jeans by the US fell drastically in May ’20 both in quantity and value on yearly basis. Shipment was worth 444,155 dozen in quantity and $37.95 million in value during May this year, falling 75 per cent and 77.80 per cent, respectively. As far as monthly decline is concerned in May ’20 over April ’20, total MB jeans import plunged 25.57 per cent in value and 22.60 per cent in quantities. The US’ import of MB denim jeans in April ’20 was valued at $51 million.

The cumulative decline in January-May ’20 period was 38.78 per cent and the import valued at $437.74 million, a $278 million less than what the country had imported in Jan.-May ’19 period. Of all countries, Mexico noted staggering growth of 104.7 per cent in quantity of MB jeans exports to the US in May ’20 over April ’20, while it escalated by 86.17 per cent in value-terms.

Bangladesh was the second largest exporter of MB jeans to the USA with 80,210 dozen shipment worth $5.82, which is a sharp decline of 80.30 per cent and 81.30 per cent, respectively, on yearly basis. Nicaragua registered a Y-o-Y fall of 61.70 per cent in value and 57.40 per cent in quantity, while China tumbled by 80.40 per cent in values and 80.60 per cent in quantity in May ’20 over May ’19. China’s decline was worse than Nicaragua. The CAFTA-DR benefitted country surpassed China to ship $4.10 million worth of MB jeans to the US in May ’20. The shipment value of China stood at just $2.09 million.

  

Apparel imports by Japan declined by 13.56 per cent on Y-o-Y basis during the January-May ’20 period. The country imported 1,040.90 billion yen of garments in the period, revealed the Ministry of Finance. Import by weight also declined 11.79 per cent to 2,458 million kg as imports from all major apparel export destinations took a severe hit due to ongoing pandemic situation.

Japan’s apparel imports from Vietnam declined by 0.16 per cent on Y-o-Y basis to 173.13 billion yen while its imports from China declined by 16.45 per cent. Weight-wise Vietnam’s imports declined by 2 per cent to 297.05 million kg while those of China tumbled by 13.86 per cent on yearly basis to 1,635.83 million kg. India’s apparel shipment to Japan in the mentioned period declined by 31.91 per cent and valued at 12.61 billion yen (US $ 117.36 million). Also, the weight of shipment shrunk 29.41 per cent to 22.58 million kg. Shipments from Bangladesh fell by 13.89 per cent to at 48.98 billion yen. The weight of apparel shipments also decreased 15.41 per cent to 109.31 million kg.

  

At a virtual media briefing, John Laurens, Head-Global Transaction Services, DBS Group stated that Indonesia will benefit from the diversification of global supply chains as multinational companies are looking into ways to reduce reliance on China to manufacture their supplies following the outbreak of COVID-19. Lauren said companies will continue to diversify to low-cost markets like Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, as the pandemic has severely disrupted the global supply chains. It has also made some companies question their heavy reliance on China, while China’s ongoing trade war with the US has also burdened the industries with additional tariffs.

Taking advantage of this situation, Indonesian government has established a special task force to attract businesses leaving China and facilitate their relocation to Indonesia. On June 30, President Jokowi Widodo announced seven foreign companies had confirmed plans to relocate production facilities, mostly from China, to Indonesia. He added that 17 more were looking into opening facilities in the country. The relocation of seven companies is projected to bring $850 million to Indonesia while potentially employing around 30,000 workers, based on the Investment Coordinating Board’s (BKPM) estimates.

  

Vongsey Vissoth, Permanent Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Cambodia says although garment exports have dropped, the total amount of Cambodia’s exports to the international market in the first five months remained positive. Hence, Cambodia’s trade deficit dropped by 20 per cent, revealed a semi-annual report by the National Bank of Cambodia.

The NBC’s report also added export of Cambodian products increased 3 per cent, stemming from an increase of electronics by 45 per cent, bikes by 18 percent, rice by 29 percent and other products by 30 percent while exports of manufacturing dropped around 6 percent and rubber by 27 percent. Cambodian garment exports dropped over 5 per cent to around $3.78 billion in the first half of the year, according to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

In the first half of 2020, Cambodia’s garment exports were around $3.784 billion, a fall of 5.4 per cent from more than $4 billion in the same period in 2019. The reason for this decrease was the impact of COVID-19 on the sector which led to a suspension of factories and fewer purchasing orders, said Ken Loo, Secretary-General, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

As of June, 450 factories suspended production in the garment, footwear and travelling bag sector and 83 factories were formally closed compared to 2019, when 75 factories were closed. Additionally, the government did not implement effective measures and policies to support the private sector.

Heng Sour, Spokesperson, Labor Ministry revealed that so far more than 10 factories have asked permission to transform their production chain to produce face masks. Currently there are two factories producing face masks in Cambodia.

  

With the reopening of major clothing retailers and brands in the EU and US, the inflow of work orders at Bangladesh garment factories has been on the rise, albeit on a limited scale. Most of the local factory owners are running at 80 per cent capacity as buyers are coming back with work orders. Large units have been receiving a handsome volume of work orders but the country's small and medium apparel companies are still suffering. There is a nearly 30 per cent gap in receiving work orders this year compared to last year, says KM Rezaul Hasanat, Chairman and CEO, Viyellatex Group, a leading garment exporter. The volume of confirmed work orders is likely to further reduce from September, said MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, another leading garment exporter.

However, suppliers sending garment shipments to Germany faced less order cancellations in March, April and May. There is also a steady inflow of work orders to their factories even amid the Covid-19 pandemic as the German economy has been comparatively less affected by the virus till date.

Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, Managing Director, Rising Group, said he has an adequate number of work orders for knitwear items but in case of woven items, he could not take orders because he needed to import fabrics, mainly from China. So currently, he can execute 85 per cent of knitwear orders and use 60 per cent of the capacity for woven, Babu said.

KI Hossain, President. Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association, said local buying houses were facing a crisis of work orders as most retailers and brands did not prefer to travel to factories or hold meetings either virtually or any other third destination, except Bangladesh.

  

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and all other organizations endorsing the Call to Action to also endorse GMAC's appeal, to postpone Everything But Arms (EBA) withdrawal for Cambodia by one year. The priorities identified in the Call to Action and the ILO’s invitation for the consultation with GMAC include how to support manufacturers to survive the economic dislocation caused by the pandemic and how to protect the income support needs of workers in the sector.

Cambodia already has suffered some 400 factory suspensions and more than 150,000 job losses in the garment sector, with scores more factories and tens of thousands of additional workers at imminent risk. Since the Call to Action is mostly endorsed by European buyers and is being generously supported by the Government of Germany, the single and immediate concern GMAC raised during the consultation was the looming second blow that the apparel, travel goods and footwear sectors in Cambodia face on August 12, with the scheduled withdrawal of €1 billion in trade benefits under the European Union’s EBA trade program.

Hence, GMAC has asked ILO and all other organizations to also endorse GMAC’s appeal, already conveyed in early June to the European Commission and European Parliament, that given the unanticipated impact of COVID-19 on Cambodia the European Commission’s decision, made in early February before the impact of COVID-19, to withdraw certain EBA benefits effective August 12 be reassessed and postponed for one year.

  

Brooks Brothers has succumbed to its debts and filed for bankruptcy in Delaware. The company has entered the process with $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing obtained from WHP Global, the newly formed brand management firm headed by Yehuda Shmidman is among the parties interested in acquiring the business. Brooks’ largest creditor is Swiss Garments Co, which is owed $5.2 million. The company listed both its assets and liabilities as ranging between $500 million and $1 billion.

The group aims to start this important chapter with a new owner that has appreciation for the Brooks Brothers legacy, a vision for its future, and aligns with our core values and culture. Prior to COVID-19, it was already evaluating various options to position the company for future success in a rapidly transforming retail environment, including a potential sale of the business. Industry headwinds were only intensified by the pandemic. Seeking protection to facilitate an efficient sale of the business is the best next step for the company to achieve its goals, over any other alternative.”

Brooks Brothers will commence a competitive auction where parties can submit qualified bids and the sale process is expected to be completed within the “next few months, pending court approval. Until that time, the company will continue to operate its business and will continue to examine the reopening of stores that have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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