Six textile and garment-producing Asian nations have joined hands to urge global apparel retailers and brands to show responsible business behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic.
The STAR (Sustainable Textile of the Asian Region) Network, a platform of nine garment and textile-producing and exporting associations from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam, signed a joint statement.
The associations are: 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 of 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.
The members control a major portion of $460 billion global garment market.
In the statement, they urged international clothing retailers and brands to carefully consider all potential impacts on workers and small businesses in the supply chain while taking significant purchasing decision.
They urged retailers and brands to honour the terms of purchasing contracts, fulfill obligations and not to re-negotiate price or payment terms.
"Take delivery or shipment and proceed with payment as agreed upon for goods already produced and currently in production with materials ready, and [do] not cancel orders which are already in production," the statement said.
The network suggested retailers and brands offer fair compensation to suppliers if production or delivery has to be suspended or stopped, or offer salaries directly to the workers of suppliers.
"Put no responsibility on suppliers for delay of delivery or shipment and claim no compensation for such delays."
The suppliers also urged retailers and brands not to put improper pressure on them by way of additional costs, rush orders or unnecessary visits and audits.
"Make all efforts and engage with local stakeholders for a better understanding of the local situations and contexts. Always resort to dialogue and collaborative settlement to ensure mutually acceptable solutions to disputes," the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Dhaka suggested local garment manufacturers negotiate with their business partners in China on deferred payment as demanded by the BGMEA.
In a letter to Salman F Rahman, adviser to the prime minister on private sector industry and investment on tuesday, the embassy said during the crisis, the Chinese government can't put pressure on Chinese businessmen to accept any deferred payment.
However, Bangladeshi businessmen can negotiate with their Chinese businessmen, it said.
Despite the countrywide lockdown, 41 factories were open in the country to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) or to finish the work orders for quick shipment, according to the BGMEA.
All the factories have been asked to pay wages to the workers by April 16. So far, 80 factories paid salaries for March, it said.