By Iftekhar Zaman, Transparency International, Bangladesh

One year ago today, three thousand garment workers started a typical work day at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

Like many of the country’s 4m garment workers – over 80 per cent of whom are young women – they earned just over one dollar a day for up to 19 hours of work; went without water or toilets; and crucially were not protected by basic workplace safety standards. They walked up one staircase: the only way in and out of the building. Read more

The US has suspended preferential access to its market for Bangladesh because of what it sees as slow progress in enforcing heath and safety standards in the country’s largest export industry, ready-made garments, following the Rana Plaza factory disaster (pictured).

The move, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday, could damage the international reputation of the garment industry and hit Bangladesh’s exports. Read more

By Qazi Arif of Envision Architects

Nearly two weeks have passed since the disaster at Rana Plaza in Savar, Dhaka, which is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, and the deadliest structural failure in modern times.

It is easy to simply say the building was poorly constructed. How and why is harder to understand, given the confusion and and buck-passing surrounding building permits and construction regulation. How can this be prevented in future? Read more

Seamstresses work in a factory that makes and exports Valentino men's suits in 10th of Ramadan City, Egypt

The slide in the value of the Egyptian pound since December is good news for the textile industry, but its impact is blunted by the deterioration in economic and business conditions since the 2011 revolution, exporters say, writes Heba Saleh in Cairo.

Manufacturers have been arguing for years that the currency is overvalued, damaging competitiveness and business. Though they now welcome the devaluation of the pound, they are deeply anxious about the upheavals in the exchange market and the more general deterioration in the business climate. Read more

The re-balancing of the Chinese economy should enable Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam to double their share of the world textile market and boost intra-Asian trade as a proportion of world trade – so says a report from the consultancy Ernst & Young. Read more

The deadly fire at a clothing factory in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in November, in which 117 workers died, could have consequences for the country’s exports as well as for its tarnished reputation as a manufacturing power. Read more

Another German Mittelstand has been snapped up by a Chinese manufacturer, this time in textiles.

Hong Kong-based Fong’s Industries has just completed its acquisition of Monforts, based just outside Dusseldorf, in the latest example of how Chinese companies are eager to purchase world-class engineering skills and innovation as well as market share in the developed world. Read more

Under pressure from Bangladesh, China and India, Pakistan’s leading textile manufacturers are trying to move up the value chain. The FT’s Henny Sender visits a Nishat Mills factory to investigate what is happening in the industry.

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Bangladesh could be this decade’s great usurper if it manages to sidle into the low-value manufacturing gap China is leaving in its wake as it moves up the value-adding ladder. And if a report by McKinsey, the consultancy, is correct the ready made garment sector is one place where Bangladesh is ready to strike. Read more

Days of violent protests by Bangladeshi garment workers – who produce clothes for western brands like Marks & Spencer, H&M, Tesco and Walmart – demanding a higher minimum wage peaked on Sunday when at least three people were killed and 250 people were injured in clashes with police.

Since then, production has resumed in some units of the Dhaka and Chittagong Export Processing Zones, after employees were given assurances that they would reap the full benefits of a new pay scale promised last month. But many have remained closed, with the issue of wages still looming. Read more

Given the parlous state of its economy and its generally hostile attitude to the outside world, North Korea does not have much of a reputation as an outward investor.

But, while the country’s political masters have been busy trying to start a new war on the Korean peninsula, a delegation from North Korea’s foreign trade ministry has been in Vietnam looking to invest in the silk and garment industry. Read more