Domestic suppliers offered compliance training
A major trade promoter in Europe has vowed to increase assistance to Chinese suppliers in a bid to help them improve their compliance and better tap into global and domestic markets.
Jan Eggert, director- general of the Brussels-based European Foreign Trade Association, announced a plan to triple the organization’s resources in China in 2014 in order to offer more training to Chinese businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
“The move aims to expand their capability to catch up with the global market and better tap into future opportunities,” Eggert said in Shanghai on Monday.
The Business Social Compliance Initiative, a program that is committed to improving working conditions in factories and farms worldwide, will provide the support.
“We will offer specific training on improving compensation, working hours and safety,” Eggert said, adding that the program aims to include workers as well as managers.
There also will be more advanced training programs, including e-learning tools, although companies will have to pay for some of the programs.
The training budget is roughly 1 million euros ($1.37 million), Eggert said.
The general idea, he said, is to coordinate with other entities in China. Members have their own budgets for their suppliers, so part of the cost will be shared.
As one of Europe’s top associations for trade policy and global supply chains, the EFTA unites more than 1,000 retailers, importers, brands and national associations to improve political and legal frameworks for trade.
China has the most participants in the BSCI, accounting for more than 70 percent of the reported 612 billion euros in annual purchasing value by the participants.
“I don’t know whether the total buying will increase, since there are other factors, like the European market, which is not very good,” Eggert said.
“But with better social and environmental performances along the supply chain, the chance to get orders is much larger.”
But he said at least one change is sure to be in the cards — after the training, European companies will buy fewer basic products from China, but from more sophisticated suppliers.
“China has quite a high level of production knowledge in many areas, as well as advanced technology. So the buying will move in this direction.”
Out of the association’s members, Chinese farms and factories have shown the highest growth in compliance, from 18 percent in 2008 to 62 percent in 2011.
Yet India still topped that compliance level, with about 75 percent of its companies living up to the requirements in 2011.
Sherry Yuan, CSR and quality manager of AB Lindex, Stockman Group, a Swedish fashion chain boasting 85 suppliers from China, expressed her confidence in Chinese market.