Read this month’s update on trade and sustainability topics, with on the ground analysis from our international network.
Saiful Millat, Network Representative Bangladesh
Pandemic continues to affect Bangladeshi Exports
In Bangladesh, earnings from exports declined 3.92 per cent year-on-year to $3.19 billion in February. This is due to a fall in apparel shipment as the lingering coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt the country's key markets.
The merchandise shipment was also 4.83 per cent below the month's export target of $3.35 billion, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). Shipment of garments, particularly woven ones, are yet to fully recover because many major export destinations in Europe and the US are still under lockdowns due to the second wave of the Covid-19.
The performance of garment exports in February was negative 5.71. Nevertheless, some sectors did record growth. Knitwear exports registered a 5.78% positive growth. Given the backdrop of the faltering progress from Covid-19 and the impact on global business, the distressing situation may prevail for more months till demand at the retail end starts responding positively. Export earnings from other important sectors like agricultural products, special textile, shrimp, vegetables, ceramics, plastic goods, terry towel, knit fabrics, crabs, fruits, golf shafts, headgears, furniture and paper and paper goods, also declined.
Nevertheless, the export of bicycles, dry foods, rubber, tea, light engineering products, pharmaceuticals, electronics goods, carpets and handicrafts grew.
For more information on the Bangladesh market, Contact Saiful Millat – amfori Bangladesh Network Representative.
Pierre Strub, Network Representative Switzerland
Switzerland votes yes to Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia
In a referendum on 7 March 2021, 51.6 percent of voters said yes to the Indonesia-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement. That is an small margined approval, but one that gives the Swiss Federal Council, the parties and the business community mixed messages.
In many respects, the vote was a more significant event than than just around easing Free Trade with Indonesia. For the first time in 50 years, the people of Switzerland voted on a free trade agreement. The referendum was therefore a general test of popular acceptance of free trade policy.
Many "no" voters underlined that the social and environmental effects of an FTA were their prime motivation. Nevertheless, the agreement has an pioneering character by including prominently and as a condition sustainability criteria.
The next Free Trade Agreement that will be considered by the Swiss people is the Mercosur agreement. This has also been noted as controversial. This is mainly due to the practices around beef production, among other things, for which parts of the Amazon are cleared.
Goals of the Sustainable Textiles Switzerland 2030 Program
Following four open meetings in January 2021, a great deal of input and lively discussions on SDGs 8, 12,13 and 15 has been processed for the purpose of goal setting towards 2030 progress. These meetings included amfori, together with the consortium partners Swiss Fair Trade, Swiss Textiles and the Ecos office. In the coming weeks, these will be discussed with stakeholders and companies and further commitments will be collected. In parallel, the concept for an awareness-raising campaign for sustainable textiles will be developed.
Summary available here
Kelli Hoggle, Network Representative, US & Canada
Biden Administration’s Trade Policy Announced: Addressing Environmental and Social Progress
The Biden administration’s U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office announced week of March 1st that they will consider a carbon border tax as a market and regulatory approach to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to climate change, the priorities set out by USTR also cover advancing enforcement of labour issues (forced and exploitative labor, corruption and discrimination) at the producer level, including the alleged China’s forced labor programs targeting Uighur Muslims. The office said that tariffs are a useful option to further advance the U.S.’s environmental and labor policies and hold importing countries accountable to the parameters of existing trade obligations.