May we ask...

Dr. Gerd Müller, German Minister of Development, on the German Textile Federation

By the end of 2017 the members of the Textile Federation will be required to submit their plans. The measures are compulsory and will be verified externally. What do you expect from this?

Through the Textile Federation we intend to achieve improvements along the whole textile value-added chain: from cultivation of cotton, to dying the fibres, to sewing the clothing, all the way to sale. We cannot do this on our own. For this challenge, we need all the major players: companies, associations, trade unions, non-governmental organisations. Each of our nearly 200 members has agreed to introduce concrete improvements by the end of 2017. That means – every year – hundreds of improvements which would not exist without the Federation. From the sustainable use of water, to living wages in the cotton mills, to the fight against child labour, to the avoidance of health-damaging chemicals. I have no doubt that this commitment will be of benefit to all. For the women who work in the cotton industry, and equally for the businesses at the department-store check-out. For no-one wants to share responsibility, via their purchase, for detrimental working conditions along the value-added chain. Naturally the German Government is setting a good example in this case. By 2020 at least half of all textiles manufactured for the government – for the German army, for instance, or the Federal Police – will be procured sustainably.      

In what direction do you believe the Textile Federation will develop in the long term?

The Textile Federation makes us an international pioneer. A fact of which all members can be justly proud. We intend to grow further. Our goal is to ensure in future that membership of the Textile Federation cannot be evaded in any way. But it is also obvious that scarcely any industry is as international in its constellation as the textile sector. For that reason, we must internationalise our approach. With this in view, we are in discussions, for instance, with the European Union.

What impact will the coming German parliamentary election have on the work in and on the Federation?

The foundation stone for the Textile Federation has been laid. We already cover half of German textile retailing. That is a very respectable figure. It is just as important that we have very committed staff. Jointly we have developed objectives based on international principles and are quite sure that we are going in the right direction with the Federation. The aim of every one of us is to ensure that catastrophes of the kind which occurred some four years ago in the Rana Plaza textile factor in Bangladesh cannot happen again. The German parliamentary elections will not change any of that.

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