The Next Black – A film about the Future of Clothing

 

‘The Next Black’ is a documentary film that explores the future of clothing. Watch as we meet with some of the most innovative companies on the planet to get their opinion on clothing and its future, including: heroes of sustainability, Patagonia; tech-clothing giants, Studio XO; sportswear icon, adidas; and Biocouture, a consultancy exploring living organisms to grow clothing and accessories.

EU Commission Releases Negotiating Positions for Textile and Apparel in T-TIP

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The EU Commission released its negotiating positions for the textile and apparel sector in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) on May 14, 2014.  The position paper outlines a few areas that the EU Commission says it would include in the T-TIP negotiation with the United States:

  • Labeling requirements for textile & apparel and footwear products
  • convergence and/or harmonization of approaches to guarantee product safety and consumer protection
  • standards approximation

Earlier this year, USTR also released its negotiating objectives for the T-TIP. Specifically for the textile and apparel sector, USTR will “seek to obtain fully reciprocal access to the EU market for U.S. textile and apparel products, supported by effective and efficient customs cooperation and other rules to facilitate U.S.-EU trade in textiles and apparel.” USTR holds the positive view that “eliminating the remaining duties on our exports will create new opportunities for integration into European supply chains and to sell high-quality “made-in-USA” garments to European consumers.  Enhanced U.S.-EU customs cooperation will also help ensure that non-qualifying textiles and apparel from third countries are not being imported into the United States under T-TIP.

However, T-TIP negotiation somehow is under the shadow of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another free trade agreement currently under negotiation among the United States and other eleven countries in the Asia Pacific region. As reported by the Inside US Trade, the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) holds the view that TTP and T-TIP negotiation should be dealt with “sequentially”. NCTO would like to avoid a situation where the US makes a concession on textiles and apparel to the EU in T-TIP that goes beyond the US offer to Vietnam in TPP, causing Vietnam to demand the same concession in the TPP talks.

One of the most difficult issues on textiles and apparel in T-TIP will be the rule of origin, given that the U.S. and EU have taken vastly different approaches on this issue in their existing preferential trade agreements. The EU rule of origin for apparel essentially consists of two different rules — one that applies generally and one that can be used as an exception. Under the general rule, an apparel item qualifies as originating if it has undergone at least two “substantial processes” in the EU. In general, weaving the yarn into fabric and finishing the fabric are considered substantial operations. Under this scheme, EU manufacturers can use non-originating yarn to make qualifying apparel as long as that yarn is woven into fabric in the EU and also finished there. As a result, this part of the EU rule is sometimes referred to in the United States as the equivalent of a “fabric-forward” rule, since it usually requires all components of the item, starting with the fabric, to be made in the region.

The second part of the EU rule — which functions as an exception — essentially applies a more liberal rule for certain apparel and textile items. These items can qualify for tariff benefits even if only the printing or other downstream operations occur in the EU. Specifically, under this exception, a textile or apparel item that is made from non-originating fabric but for which the printing occurs in the EU can qualify for tariff benefits if the non-originating part of the item is no more than 47.5 percent of the value of the final product. EU manufacturers of printed bed sheets often take advantage of this printing exception (Inside US Trade).

Latest data from OTEXA shows that in 2013, U.S. textile and apparel imports from EU(28) totaled $4 billion, among which 52% were apparel products and 48% were textiles. Top product categories of U.S. textile and apparel imports from EU include non-woven fabrics, men&boys’ suits, dresses, floor coverings, other man-made fiber apparel, special purpose fabrics and women & girls’ coats. In comparison, U.S. textile and apparel exports to EU(28) reached $2.5 billion in 2013, among which only 29% were apparel products and 71% were textiles. Top product categories of U.S. textile and apparel exports to EU include specialty & industrial fabrics, felts & other non-woven fabrics, filament yarns, other made-up textile articles, waste & tow staples, women & girls slacks, shorts and pants as well as spun yarns & thread.

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Vietnam Announces Ambitious Plan to Develop its Textile Industry

Reported by the Sourcing Journal, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade recently approved its textile and garment sector development plan up to year 2030. Under the new plan, Vietnam sets an ambitious goal to achieve a 55% local content ratio for exported apparel by 2015 and will further increase the ratio to around 70% by 2030. As estimated, the plan will bring about an annual textile production growth rate of 12 to 13 percent between 2013 and 2030 in Vietnam.

Numerous studies have suggested that Vietnam could substantially expand its apparel exports to the world after the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement under negotiation by twelve countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the United States and Vietnam. However, restrained by its stage of development, about 70—80% of Vietnam’s demand for textile inputs currently is imported (Lopez-Acevedo & Robertson, 2012). Based on 23 interviews, Goto (2007) further finds that apparel suppliers in Vietnam on average produced 67% CMT and 33% FOB based on value and 95% CMT and 5% FOB based on quantity.

But with the help of foreign investment from South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, Vietnam is quickly building up its textile manufacturing capacity (note: this is very different from the case in Mexico). According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the number of textile firms in Vietnam had quickly increased from 408 in 2000 to 1,577 in 2008. Lopez-Acevdeo & Robertson (2012) further suggest that Vietnam’s annual production of cotton fiber has reached 10,000 tons; 50,000 tons of man-made fiber; 260,000 tons of short-staple fiber and yarn; 15,000 tons of knitted fabric; and 680 million meters of woven fabric. Around 38% of Vietnam’s textile output came from foreign invested companies in 2009.

Vietnam’s ambition to expand its domestic textile manufacturing capacity will have huge implications for the US-based textile industry. Although Vietnam seldom uses US-made textile inputs, Vietnam’s apparel exports to the United States directly compete with those exported from Mexico and countries in the Caribbean Basin regions which is the largest export market for U.S. made textiles (Lu & Dickerson, 2012).  An expanded local textile manufacturing capacity will not only reduce Vietnam’s demand for imported textile inputs, but also will help improve the price competitiveness of Vietnam’s apparel exports in the global marketplace. If China increasingly moves its textile factories to Vietnam (unless the conflict between Vietnam and China over the South China Sea complicates the situation), Vietnam may further becomes a net textile exporter in the long run.

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OECD Service Trade Restrictiveness Index Shows Trade Obstacles in Emerging Economies Remain High

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According to the latest Service trade Restrictiveness Index (STRIs) released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), service trade barriers in many emerging economies remain much higher than their developed trading partners.

Specifically for the distribution service sector, which covers general wholesale and retail sales of consumer goods, the STRIs suggests the highest trade barriers are in place in Indonesia, China and India whereas Spain, Germany and Czech Republic are among the most open to foreign companies (see the figure above).  Because trade in distribution services has mainly taken place through commercial presence, and the STRI results highlight the importance of impediments on foreign ownership.

The STRIs indices take the value from 0 to 1, where 0 is completely open and 1 is completely closed. The indices are calculated based on the following five factors:

  • Restrictions on foreign ownership and other market entry conditions (30%)
  • Restrictions on the movement of people (10%)
  • Other discriminatory measures and international standards (17%)
  • Barriers to competition and public ownership (22%)
  • Regulatory transparency and administrative requirements (21%) 

Currently, the STRIs include 40 countries (34 OECD members as well as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa) across 18 service sectors.