Monday, 14 December 2015

multifibre agreement

Multifibre Agreement Forum

Here's a group which suddenly sprang-up out of the states at the same time as the Multi Fibre Agreement ended and Ethical Fashion Forum sprang-up in the UK. In Ethical Fashion Forum's words "The MFA Forum is a not-for-profit, participation-based open network established in early 2004 to address key concerns that were predicted with the end of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement. Visit the MFA Forum website". The domain itself was first known to in 2005 and the web site, arguing for cheap clothes from Rana Plaza, followed soon.

The gist of the PR is that this is not a flood of goods that are cheap because they come from countries without a welfare state. Nor an injustice to those who try to produce goods in a welfare state and find themselves under-cut without tariffs. Certainly not. It is an empowerment process to reduce no-colonel protection, often explained next to some anecdote about the East India Company's henchmen sabotaging rival local production in Bengall three hundred years ago. Mentions of similar actions by Nike contractors against employees who are paid below the minimum wage and form unions are not mentioned, because they are the the people newly empowered by free trade.

I discover a subtlety, which is that the Multifibre agreement didn't cover Bangladesh. That's why the interest in that country, given fear that other countries would take its market share.

I discovered later that the Ethical Trade Initiative, which gets a Foreign Office Grant, subsidises trade associations in countries like Bangladesh to recruit members who can't otherwise pay for membership, and to check corporate social responsibility auditing. This is odd because, as an organisation of employers, a trade association is only going to notice the very worst bad practice that gets a bad reputation for the average; otherwise it's a system for employers to police themselves. A union also gets a grant in Bangladesh, but only enough to rent an office. Meanwhile their colleagues at the trade association have enough money to pass some of it on to Ethical Fashion Forum to help promote Bangladeshi goods at UK taxpayers' expense, in competition with UK-made goods. I think this is a bit unfair as UK manufacturers are very lean and not all able to pay the subscription to - say - the British Footwear Association. If they did, there is no grant to UK trade assocations to promote UK goods, even in the UK. - full story.

What is Ethical Fashion? - a vague term designed to beg the question and provide more answers. Click for links to a site seach to see if the EFF lobby group pentions words like "national insurance", "social insurance" or "social clause" on their web site today; up until now, it hasn't.

Planb4fashion may be easier to read on a single page
a blog by which is a vegan shoe shop

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