Vietnamese garment makers struggle to comply with US ban on Xinjiang cotton — Radio Free Asia

Vietnam’s heavy reliance on cotton imports from China could lead it to fall under a US ban on cotton produced by forced labor in Xinjiang province. Vietnamese manufacturers say it is difficult to prove where the fabric of their clothes comes from.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) came into force on June 21, having been signed into law by US President Joe Biden last December.

The move reportedly led fashion chains such as United Arrows in Japan to stop selling Xinjiang cotton clothing.

According to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC), countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh, the world’s second- and third-largest garment exporters, still rely heavily on imports of Chinese fabrics and yarns, especially high-end materials.

“As a result, campaign groups and some Western politicians have accused manufacturers of ‘cotton laundering’ in places like Vietnam and Bangladesh, for intermediating in the production of cotton garments,” the official said. center.

Last month, the Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association urged its members to be careful where their raw materials come from to avoid falling under new US regulations.

Last year, Bangladesh’s garment exports to the United States earned it $7.18 billion. Vietnam’s garment exports to America more than doubled to $15.4 billion, according to the US Textiles and Clothing Board.

BHRRC said a Chinese garment maker that has a factory in Vietnam said proving the origin of fabrics and yarns involved a lengthy due diligence process.

“It is difficult to distinguish cotton products entering Vietnam from different sources because they may have been mixed up during transport at sea. Suppliers may do this so that they can mislabel cotton from Xinjiang as coming from elsewhere, to circumvent US law,” the manufacturer told the center.

RFA spoke with the manager of a clothing company in Nam Dinh province, northern Vietnam.

“My company makes clothes for a company based in China that uses materials from their country and exports to the United States,” he said.

“Because of UFLPA ordered less from us. It seems that our Chinese partner cannot sell his products so he stopped ordering [so much] on our side.”

The Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association referred RFA to Vice President Do Pham Ngoc Tu’s comments to China’s Global Times. He told the newspaper that Vietnamese garment makers will have to “wean themselves off” raw materials produced in Xinjiang if they want to continue exporting to the United States.

A fifth of the world’s cotton comes from Xinjiang, making it difficult for manufacturers to find adequate supplies in countries that don’t use forced labor.

Ignoring the ban would mean falling for the world’s biggest clothing importer. The United States ships all but 5% of its clothing from abroad.

Michael O. Stutler