AHMEDABAD: Haunted by charges of use of child labour in the textile sector, India is pulling up its socks ahead of a review by the United States of America scheduled later this year.
Apart from already having begun a process for lobbying for itself through law firm Sidley Austin LLP in the US, India is expected to engage US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, during her visit in near future, to present a case for exclusion of India from the list.
Though isolated, instances of use of child labour in Indian garmenting industry has not gone down well with the US that accounts for 30% of India’s total apparel exports worth $10 billion. In September 2009, US Department of Labour listed Indian garments under the Executive Order 13126 List (EOL) and Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation (TVPRA) list. These are perceived trade barriers that could emanate from the US.
Likewise, a TVPRA listing is a huge reputation risk for Indian apparel industry that supplies to global retailers and brands like Walmart, GAP, H&M, Diesel, M&S, Levi’s, et al, all of who swear by strict policies on child labour. While trade linkage with labour issues is not immediately enforceable in the absence of a legislation, the likelihood of a legislation in the coming months could affect Indian apparel exports fear those in know of things.
With the next TVPRA list expected in September 2010 and the EOL list 13126 being finalised in the next three to four months, India is not leaving anything to chance. India has already initiated a process to defend itself through a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic channel, lobbying firm and the common compliance code.
During a recent visit to Washington, an Indian delegation comprising joint secretary (exports) at the textiles ministry V Srinivas, AEPC chairperson Premal Udani and general secretary Vimal Kirti Singh met US law makers to present a case for exclusion of Indian garments from the two lists.
Further, AEPC has also finalised upon Brenda Jacobs of Sidley Austin LLP to lobby for India in the US. Back home, AEPC has roped in Mr Venugopal to represent the case of Indian garmenters. Ms Jacobs is expected to assist AEPC in the field of research besides sourcing information on US policy and labour laws.