At the lauching ceremony (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Life and Building Safety (LABS) Initiative was officially launched in Hanoi on August 6 by IDH - the sustainable trade initiative and the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), aiming to promote safer conditions for factory workers in the apparel and footwear industries.

New-generation free trade agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) have helped apparel and footwear enterprises boost collaboration with foreign partners. However, the firms are struggling to fulfill their international commitments as well as their customers’ requirements on labour safety, production safety and environmental protection.

Particularly, many brands and large distributors have recently imposed electrical and structural safety requirements on factories, considering them as an important trade element in the future. This could cause troubles for Vietnamese producers as they are supplying products for various brands.

To assist local businesses, IDH has joined hands with multiple international brands and distributers such as Bestseller, GAP, Li & Fung, PVH, Target, VF Corporation and Walmart to develop the LABS Initiative, in which common structural safety standards for the Vietnamese apparel and footwear industries are set up.

The standards are built based on international practices and relevant regulations in Vietnam. The programme was piloted in 29 Vietnamese apparel and footwear factories, who are having contracts with the mentioned brands, and it is ready to applied in other firms nationwide in the coming time.

Director of IDH Vietnam Huynh Tien Dung said as many deaths in apparel and footwear factories are caused by building collapse and fires, it is a must to eliminate electrical and structural safety risks.

It is not a surprise as giant distributers and brands have shown their increasing interest in the field, he said, expressing his hope that the IDH Initiative will contribute to promoting trade cooperation as well as sustainable development of the Vietnamese apparel and footwear industries.

Meanwhile, VITAS Deputy Secretary General Hoang Ngoc Anh said the association supports the building of a set of common standards on factory safety, which will be applied in all brands.

She wished that more brands will join the LABS Initiative in the coming time, helping Vietnamese firms save time and efforts in investing in safety measures as well as making reports to brands and distributers.

IDH is an international non-governmental organisation, with approaches designed to drive sustainability from niche to norm in mainstream markets, delivering impact on Sustainable Development Goals.

It is supported by multiple European governments, including institutional donors like BUZA, SECO and DANIDA. Besides, it has worked together with 600 companies, social organisations, financial institutions, producer organisations and governments in 12 sectors and 12 landscapes in over 40 countries worldwide.-VNA