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DHAKA – The fashion industry needs to agree on a globally standardised approach to purchasing practices and due diligence, says Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters (BGMEA) vice president Miran Ali. Ali was one of the few supply chain voices at the recent Global Fashion Summit and he used the platform to call for a louder voice for suppliers.

Speaking on behalf of the The Sustainable Terms of Trade Initiative (STTI), which is lobbying for better purchasing practices, he said: “The terms of trade have changed. The Sustainable Terms of Trade Initiative (STTI) was created to give the supply chain a voice. If we are going to make change as an industry there needs to be a discussion on equal terms.”

Mr Ali spoke on a panel focusing on upcoming due diligence legislation, led by OECD due diligence head Tyler Gillard, alongside Maxine Bedat, founder and director of New Standard Institute and Sebastian Herold, deputy head of division sustainable textile supply chains and sustainable consumption at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Ali said that for manufacturers it is crucial to have a globally standardised approach and not fragmented regulation in different countries, regions and states.

Maxine Bedat backed Miran Ali’s pledge and stated that: “We have to shift away from passing the buck to manufacturers. There is a tendency of brands to cascade requirements up into the supply chain, but this is old fashioned.” She called for approaching legislation and compliance to be two-way streets.

The STTI and its partners are working hard on building the necessary infrastructure to create structural improvement of purchasing practices, working on the development of model contract clauses with Rutgers University, researching options for arbitration with GIZ, and developing a long-term mechanism for measuring progress on commercial compliance by brands and retailers, among other activities. 

Calls for better purchasing practices have been going on for years but little progress has been achieved on the issue. As I write this, a group of eight Bangladeshi suppliers have been left out of pocket to the tune of hundreds of thousands of USD after Polish family clothing store, TXM, announced it was applying for bankruptcy. Many are owed money dating back to last year, while TXM continued placing orders right up until it went under.

A similar story has emerged at Missguided, the UK online retailer. The business recently went into administration and has now been purchased by Frasers group. Prior to going under, the company continued to place orders with suppliers, some of which have been left owed six figure sums.


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