News / Asia

    European, US Retailers Split on Bangladesh Reform Plan

    People walk past a Gap store at the Derby Street Shoppes complex in Hingham, Massachusetts, February 21, 2012
    People walk past a Gap store at the Derby Street Shoppes complex in Hingham, Massachusetts, February 21, 2012
    Reuters
    Major U.S. retailers, including Gap Inc., declined to endorse an accord on Bangladesh building and fire safety backed by Europe's two biggest fashion chains, a trans-Atlantic divide that may dilute garment industry reform efforts.

    A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.
    x
    A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.
    A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed on April 24 as they continue searching for bodies in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.
    Three weeks after the collapse of a building housing garment factories, which killed more than 1,100 people, Western brands that rely on Bangladesh to produce clothing cheaply disagreed over how best to ensure worker safety.

    Gap said it was ready to sign on "today'' to an agreement already endorsed by European companies, including Italian clothing retailer Benetton, Britain's Marks & Spencer, Sweden's H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Spain's Inditex SA, but first wanted a change in the way disputes are resolved in the courts.

    “With this single change, this global, historic agreement can move forward with a group of all retailers, not just those based in Europe,'' Eva Sage-Gavin, an executive in Gap's global human resources and corporate affairs department, said in a statement.

    A series of deadly incidents at factories, including a fire in November that killed 112 people, has focused global attention on safety standards in Bangladesh's booming garment industry, the world's biggest exporter of clothing after China.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, called on Bangladesh to shut one factory and examine another after its own inspections found safety problems.

    Major brands and retailers set a May 15 deadline to join the agreement after talks in Germany last month. As of Tuesday morning, the only U.S. company to announce it had signed on was PVH, which owns brands including Calvin Klein.

    Europe accounts for about 60 percent of Bangladesh's clothing exports, so even without participation from the big U.S. retailers, the agreement may bring some change in a country that has seen at least three deadly garment factory disasters in the span of six months.

    Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the deal was a bit of good news in the “worst time for us.”

    “We believe this decision will motivate other big buyers across the West and the USA to join their hands with us,'' he told Reuters.

    Li & Fung Ltd, which supplies dozens of major retailers, including Walmart, said it was "continuing to look at'' the European pact, but declined to give details. Bangladesh is second only to China in Li & Fung's global supply chain.

    “We don't think the answer is to move away from Bangladesh,” Bruce Rockowitz, Li & Fung's group president and chief executive, told reporters after a shareholder meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

    “The answer is actually to invest more and try to make safety better and work with the government on doing a better job on monitoring buildings,” he added.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora