Chinese Manufacturers Attend New York Fashion Week

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance
WGSN, a global analytics firm specializing in forecasting fashion and design trends, hosted a delegation of over 20 representatives from China’s textile and fashion industry during New York Fashion Week 2015.

The delegation was led by China Textile Information Center, or CTIC, which serves China’s massive fashion and textile industry of over 20,000 companies. The gathering presented an opportunity for Chinese manufacturers to gain deeper insights into the US fashion industry as well as investment opportunities from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

The delegation also attended informational sessions at King & Partners and Parsons The New School for Design.

Sun Ruizhe, vice president of CNTAC (the National Textile Apparel Council of China) and chairman of CTIC, said “This is a unique occasion for leaders of the Chinese apparel and textile industry to immerse themselves in the U.S. fashion industry, and a mutually beneficial opportunity to discuss the enormous potential for growth and investment.”

Delays & Disruptions Due to Visit From the Pope

Due to the Pope’s visit to the U.S., FedEx, UPS, and USPS have all announced expected delays and disruptions to delivery services to the Washington, D.C., New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA

Pope Francis prays during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

metro areas between September 22nd and September 27th. Based on the disruption to service of these National carriers, expect similar delays and disruptions to Regional carrier service in the areas as well.

Garment Manufacturers Indicted in Bangladesh Factory Fire

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

Thirteen people, including two garment factory owners, have been charged with culpable homicide in Bangladesh in the aftermath of an industrial factory fire that killed 112 workers back in 2012.  An investigation, spurred by the public outcry after the fire, found that there were no fire exits in the building. Owners Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, of Dhaka’s Tazreen Fashions were among the group indicted.

The case represents a watershed moment in workers’ rights in Bangladesh, as it marks the first time that garment factory owners have been prosecuted related to workers’ deaths.

The local economy’s reliance on garment exports most likely contributed to the government’s delay in filing charges. Only after the collapse of Rana Plaza, which occurred several months later and killed over 1,130 people, did authorities investigate further.

Investigators’ claim, however, that the delay was caused by the need to interview more than 1,000 people, including factory workers who were injured, government officials and experts.

Although the accused plead not guilty, the fire has put Western brands under significant pressure to ensure safer conditions for the four million garment workers in Bangladesh who typically earn less than $50 a month.

Jordan’s Garment Industry Heats Up

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

Jordan in recent years has become an unlikely manufacturing giant in the garment industry.  Despite its political and socioeconomic instability and simmering hostilities with neighboring countries, Jordan’s 75 factories continue to thrive; comprising 95% of the industrial work force and producing exports that make up about 20% of the country’s gross domestic product.

“When you step into Jordan, you never feel the regional tumult,” says Radhakrishnan Putharikkal, President of the Classic Fashion factory, which is located on the Al-Hassan Industrial Estate just outside the city of Irbid. “Jordan’s stability and location made us choose it over Morocco or Tunisia, and our calculations were 100 percent right.”

With the overwhelming success of Jordanian factories, companies like Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Hanes, Eddie Bauer, and Macy’s have begun producing many of their garments there. Jordanian garment exports to the U.S. alone approached $1 billion last year, according to Jordan’s Trade Ministry.

Gibraltar Port Gains Edge

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

The Honorable Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Shipping, hosted a working breakfast at Gibraltar House in London recently to draw attention to the ongoing work being done to make Gibraltar a more attractive port to international clients. The gathering was held in honor of London International Shipping Week and included discussions on the port’s new cargo handling facilities, on-site towage companies, and added cruise accommodations.

The Gibraltar Ship Register, a member of the Category I Red Ensign Group of the United Kingdom and United Kingdom dependency registers, represents nearly every type of commercial vessel. The port, constructed in 2005, is strategically situated to take advantage of Mediterranean transit.

“It is hugely helpful to have face to face and open communication with our major suppliers and to work through directly with them [to] improve the Gibraltar proposition, for the benefit of all those who work with and service clients of the port,” said Isola.

Peak Season for Asia-Europe Trade Falls Short

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

Q3, often the most profitable season for the Asia-Europe trade lane, has been decidedly lackluster thus far. Analysts largely attribute the decline to the recent Russian economic downturn.  Merchandise for the winter holiday season typically begins to ship now as retailers and carriers alike in Europe and the US prepare for their busiest time of the year.

In anticipation of the holiday uptick and subsequent overcapacity, Asia-Europe carriers often use intentionally cancelled sailings within a journey, also referred to as void or blank sailings, to increase freight rates and avoid exceeding capacity.  In other words, a carrier will cancel certain legs of a journey opting for the most direct route to its destination.  Such route reductions are being applied more permanently to compensate for the significant decrease in activity this holiday season.

Qatar’s Ports Add Security Systems

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

Qatar is bolstering efforts to root out illicit goods at both its sea and land ports. The Committee of Security Agencies in Ports of Entry into Qatar has signed an agreement with the Chinese company Nyuktk to develop and install modern security systems to detect radiation.

The new systems will significantly increase the efficiency of border patrols; a welcome improvement for a country which is set to begin operating a massive new container port spanning 26.5 square kilometers early next year.

Tianjin, China’s Port Embargo Lifted

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

Dangerous goods are once again allowed into port at Tianjin, China with proper documentation submitted to the carrier. Regulations on hazardous materials are more closely monitored, in light of the explosion that devastated the port last month, but all other terminal and customs brokerage operations resume as normal.

Migrant Crisis Impacts International Shipping

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

The recent rise in unsafe transport of refugees from Syria and North Africa to Europe has begun to have a ripple effect in the international shipping industry. According to Philip Tinsley, maritime security manager at Baltic and International Maritime Council, there has been a sharp uptick in the number of accidents involving refugees at seas as well as subsequent rescue missions initiated by cargo ships.  Ship owners, operators, managers, brokers and agents, however, are bracing for additional delays in transit times and increased insurance premiums.

International conventions stipulate that any ship deemed able is required to provide assistance to a vessel in distress. Cargo ships are often the first to respond.

Vessels carrying refugees are frequently overcrowded and often require assistance along the way. Although the European Union has begun patrolling in the Mediterranean, Tinsley insists that it isn’t enough.