Asian apparel exporters urge buyers to act responsibly amid Covid-19 crisis

DHAKA: The Sustainable Textile of Asian Region (STAR), a platform of apparel exporters in Asia, has called upon the global brands, retailers and traders to follow responsible purchasing practices amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Nine textile and garment business associations from six Asian countries under the STAR Network placed a nine-point charter of demands in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The countries include Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Vietnam.

In the statement, the apparel exporters’ platform said during this unprecedented time of global outbreak of Covid-19, responsible business has become more important than ever for the entire world to survive and recover from the crisis.

Responsible purchasing practices from brand companies, retailers and traders of the global textile and apparel supply chains will bring enormous impacts on the fundamental rights of millions of workers and the livelihood of their families, reads the statement.

It is time for global businesses to uphold and honour their commitment to labour rights, social responsibility and sustainable supply chains.

With this in mind, the network urged the buyers to carefully consider all potential impacts on workers and small businesses in the supply chain while making significant purchasing decisions.

Global brands and retailers should honour the terms of purchasing contracts, fulfil obligations therein, and not re-negotiate price or payment terms.

The buyers should take delivery or shipment, and proceed with payment as agreed upon for goods already produced and currently in production with materials ready, and not cancel orders which are already in production.

The buyers should offer fair compensation to suppliers (100 percent Freight on Board) if production or delivery has to be suspended or stopped, or offer salaries directly to workers of suppliers.

Considering the situation, the buyers should not hold the suppliers liable for delays in delivery or shipment and should also not claim compensation for such delays.

At the same time, they should not pressure suppliers with additional costs, rush orders or unnecessary visits and audits, STAR Network added.

The statement also called on the buyers to make all-out efforts and engage with local stakeholders for a better understanding of the local situation and contexts.

The statement also suggested they always resort to dialogues and collaborative settlements to ensure mutually acceptable solutions to disputes.

It asked them to support business partners in the supply chain as much as possible, and aim at a long-term strategy of business continuity, supply chain unity and social sustainability.

“We appreciate the understanding, collaboration and support of our business partners and other stakeholders, and we are ready to work and walk with all responsible buyers globally to get through this crisis, towards a shared bright future,” the statement says.

This joint statement was made by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association , the China National Textile and Apparel Council, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association, the Towel Manufacturers Association of Pakistan, and the Vietnam Textile and Garment Association.

Around 1,119 factories, which are part of the BGMEA, recently reported cancellation or withholding of orders worth over $3 billion.

Order cancellation by global brands and retailers could affect about 2.21 million RMG workers’ livelihood in Bangladesh.

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