Gaza City Journal Delivering KFC by Tunnel, Not Too Fast but Satisfying
By FARES AKRAM
Palestinians in Gaza who crave KFC meals must order from across the border in Egypt, and the food-delivery odyssey involves two taxis, a checkpoint and a smuggling tunnel.
By KEITH BRADSHER
A search for new locations has taken on greater urgency for Western retailers, whose complex manufacturing needs already shrink the pool of potential locations.
Andri Tambunan for The New York Times
印度尼西亞三寶壟——本內特·莫德爾(Bennett Model)在1975年參與了中國最早的一批服裝出口業務，當時毛澤東還在世。從那時起，他的紐約時裝公司一直在尋找其他有能力為波道夫·古德曼 (Bergdorf Goodman)和尼曼(Neiman Marcus)之類的頂級零售商供應服裝的國家，其足跡遍布危地馬拉、越南和印尼等地。
Andri Tambunan for The New York Times在三寶壟的一家服裝廠，新近的培訓中心畢業生在開始工作前參加一次介紹會。
今春，許多西方企業管理人員都在展開這類出差活動。去年 11月份孟加拉國的一場致命的服裝廠火災，自1月份以來的33場地區或全國罷工，自2月份以來已經導致了數百人死亡的派系街頭暴力衝突，以及4月底拉納廣 場(Rana Plaza)的坍塌事故，都讓各國企業爭相尋找其他替代者。
「現在，孟加拉國這個名字只能破壞公司的名聲，」約瑟夫- 莫德爾聯合公司(Joseph Model Associates)精幹的首席執行官莫德爾說。該公司設計並經銷高檔服裝品牌安娜貝勒紐約(Annabelle New York)，也為不同百貨連鎖店的自營品牌生產服裝。
西方高管正在越南南部、柬埔寨中部和印尼爪哇島的腹地尋找 潛在的新供應商。雅加達的JW萬豪酒店(JW Marriott Hotel)是西方服裝買家喜愛的下榻場所，在這些天里顧客爆滿，以至於短時間內難以預定到房間。印尼服裝業高管稱，他們在最近幾周和幾個月來看到來訪者 絡繹不絕，詢問的總是同樣的關於政治穩定、勞動法、安全合規和工資的問題。
「首先是因為中國變得太貴，隨後是孟加拉國的火災悲劇，接下來還有孟加拉國層出不窮的麻煩，」印尼紡織協會(Indonesian Textile Association)主席阿德·蘇德拉查(Ade Sudradjat)說，「一些買家對下訂單給孟加拉國感到不安。」
香港利豐集團(Li & Fung)是世界上最大的採購集團之一，該集團總裁兼首席執行官樂裕民(Bruce Rockowitz)說：「人們不得不做另一手準備，制定應急計劃，以防騷亂惡化。有些人想完全撤出孟加拉國，但那只是少數人。」
對於零售商就騷亂表達的擔憂，潔衣運動(Clean Clothes Campaign)發言人苔塞爾·保利(Tessel Pauli)不以為然，她認為那只是零售商裝腔作勢，找借口避免提高那裡的安全標準。她說：「孟加拉國的政治局勢在過去10年里一直不好。」但她也補充了 一句，「當然，他們也應該跟政府明確表態，對街頭抗議活動進行血腥鎮壓的行動必須立即停止。」
有幾十個貧困的國家在生產T恤等非常基礎的服裝。但只有幾 個國家——其實只有中國、孟加拉國、越南、印度尼西亞，柬埔寨和巴基斯坦一定程度上也可以算在內——發展出了高度複雜的系統，可以生產和運輸幾萬甚至幾十 萬件相同的、高品質的襯衫或褲子，並在接到訂單幾周後就可以交付全球的零售商。
衣服需要打上正確的標籤，這樣才能順利地通過零售商的大型 配送中心將衣服準時送到世界各地的每一個門店裡。這個過程需要人數可觀的熟練工人，他們要監督質量控制，同時還有衣服的貼標和運輸。大型零售商和時裝公司 反覆嘗試要開發一些替代選項，最終都失敗了，他們在印度、非洲和拉美進行實驗，結果受制於基礎設施瓶頸和熟練管理人員或工人的匱乏。
比如印度尼西亞從上世紀90年代初就開始實施一項行業規 範，服裝廠的高度不能超過兩層，這樣更利於火災、火山噴發和地震時進行疏散。這裡的工會領導人說只有幾家印尼服裝廠會高一些，因為他們是在規則實施前建起 來的。在印尼，即便只有兩層的工廠也必須在二層建有通往院子里的通道或通向一層的長台，以便於逃離；雖然印尼存在其他的勞工虐待情況，但當地工會領導人 說，這項規則得到了嚴格遵守。
孟加拉國最大的制衣商之一莫哈馬迪集團(Mohammadi Group)的總經理盧巴納·哈克(Rubana Huq)說，孟加拉國大廈式工廠的盛行反映出這個國家不正常的高房價，再加上很難說服公共事業單位到一些較大的場地安裝電力和燃氣管線。
跨國公司在從成本不斷上升的中國逃離，它們把訂單交給東南 亞工廠，令那裡的產能飽和，這可能會讓孟加拉國避免落入出口訂單瞬間急劇下降的厄運。「今年的話，不可能——我們都訂滿了，」大型日本服裝生產商華歌爾 (Wacoal)的印度尼西亞子公司總裁蘇爾亞迪·薩斯米塔(Suryadi Sasmita)說。
After Bangladesh, Seeking New Sources
May 16, 2013
Andri Tambunan for The New York Times
Recent training center graduates at an orientation session before starting jobs at a garment factory in Semarang.
SEMARANG, Indonesia — Bennett Model helped pioneer the exporting of garments from China in 1975, the year before Mao Zedong died, and ever since, his New York fashion company has searched for other countries, from Guatemala to Vietnam to Indonesia, capable of supplying top retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.
The relentless search for new locations has taken on more urgency after the deadliest industrial accident in the global garment industry’s history, a multistory factory collapse in Bangladesh that left 1,127 people dead. Buying from Bangladesh, said Mr. Model, “has been politically incorrect ever since problems started there, so a lot of major players had already been looking for alternatives.”
Andri Tambunan for The New York TimesRecent training center graduates at an orientation session before starting jobs at a garment factory in Semarang.
When a senior executive from one of the largest American mass-market retailers called him last week with worries about suppliers in Bangladesh and plans for a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia to seek alternatives, Mr. Model was ready with advice: “I told him to add a stop in Indonesia.”
Many Western executives are taking such trips this spring. A lethal factory fire in Bangladesh last November, 33 regional or national strikes there since January, hundreds of deaths in factional street fighting there since February, and the Rana Plaza collapse in late April have left multinational corporations scrambling for other options.
“Right now, the name of Bangladesh just gives a bad rep to a company,” said Mr. Model, the dapper chief executive of Joseph Model Associates, which designs and distributes the Annabelle New York brand of high-end apparel and also makes private-label brands for various department store chains.
Western executives are checking on potential new suppliers in southern Vietnam, central Cambodia and the hinterlands of Java in Indonesia. The JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, a favorite of Western garment buyers, is so full these days that it is hard to book a room on short notice. Indonesian garment executives say they have seen a steady procession of arrivals in recent weeks and months, always asking the same questions about political stability, labor laws, safety compliance and wages.
“At first it was because of China getting too expensive, then came the Bangladesh fire tragedy, and then there have been so many steps in Bangladesh’s troubles,” said Ade Sudradjat, the chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association. “Some buyers feel uncomfortable placing orders in Bangladesh.”
Many multinationals are exploring their options in case street clashes and politically motivated national strikes worsen in Bangladesh, which is the world’s second-largest garment manufacturer after China. The country’s Islamist movement has become increasingly militant in recent weeks and begun demanding greater application of Islamic principles to daily life and government.
“People are on the one hand looking at contingency plans in case the unrest gets worse,” said Bruce Rockowitz, the group president and chief executive of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, one of the world’s largest sourcing companies. “There are some people who want to move completely away from Bangladesh, but there are only a few of them.”
Tessel Pauli, a spokeswoman for the Clean Clothes Campaign, dismissed retailers’ worries about civil unrest as a disingenuous excuse to avoid improving safety standards there. “Political turmoil has been existing in Bangladesh over the last decade,” she said, while adding, “Of course, they should make it clear to the government that bloodily suppressing street demonstrations should stop immediately.”
Dozens of impoverished countries make T-shirts and other very basic clothing. But only a few countries — really just China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and to some extent Cambodia and Pakistan — have developed highly complex systems for producing and shipping tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of identical, high-quality shirts, blouses or trousers to a global retailer within several weeks of receiving an order.
The clothing needs to be labeled correctly so that it travels smoothly through a large retailer’s distribution centers and arrives on schedule at each store around the world. The process requires formidable numbers of skilled workers who can oversee quality control as well as labeling and shipping of garments. Big retailers and fashion companies have repeatedly tried and failed to develop alternatives, experimenting in India, Africa and Latin America, only to run into infrastructure bottlenecks and shortages of skilled managers or workers.
By contrast, Mr. Model said that he had always refused to place orders in Bangladesh for his customers. He said that he and a couple of other suppliers of elite retail chains always worried about Bangladesh’s reliance on high-rise factories, in which workers can be trapped on upper floors during a fire, instead of the single-story and two-story designs found in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia, for example, has had an industry code since the early 1990s that garment factories may not be more than two stories high so evacuation will be easier during fires, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Union leaders here say that only a few Indonesian garment factories are taller, because they predate the rule. Even factories with a second floor in Indonesia must make sure that the second floor is open to the first floor with a long balcony or courtyard for easy escape; although there are other labor abuses in Indonesia, local union leaders said that the rule was scrupulously followed.
Rubana Huq, the managing director of the Mohammadi Group, one of the largest garment makers in Bangladesh, said that the prevalence of high-rise factories in Bangladesh reflected the country’s unusually high real estate prices combined with the difficulty of persuading utilities to install electricity and gas connections to larger sites.
What may save Bangladesh from a sharp, immediate drop in export orders is simply that most Southeast Asian factories are already fully booked with orders from multinationals fleeing China’s ever-rising costs. “For this year, it’s impossible — we’re already full,” said Suryadi Sasmita, the president of the Indonesian subsidiary of Wacoal, a big Japanese garment manufacturer.
亞當·戴維森(Adam Davidson)是NPR播客和博客「金錢星球」(Planet Money)的聯合創始人。
Adam Davidson is co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money,” a podcast and blog.
幾年以前，在海地太子港的一所工業園裡，一位紡織業高管告 訴我，我可以通過成為一名T恤衫製造商來致富。他說，就算是受教育程度最低的農民，要教他們基本的縫紉技術也相當容易。如果我能花50萬美元（約合307 萬元人民幣）購買二手縫紉機（他認識一個賣主），再租一棟沒有空調的混凝土樓，以每天約3美元的價錢雇幾十個「peyizan」（克里奧爾語的「農 民」），兩年內就能回本。他強調，如果這麼做行不通，我還可以把設備賣給另一個貧窮國家的某個企業主。
幾乎每個富裕國家都經歷過「T恤衫階段」。在這個經濟發展 階段里，大量的農民會放棄在薄田上辛苦勞作，轉而接受紡織廠和制衣廠嚴酷的工作條件和低廉的薪酬。英國於18世紀末期進入了T恤衫階段；美國經歷過兩個T 恤衫階段，分別出現在19世紀的新英格蘭，之後是20世紀的南方地區。在過去大概80年的時間裡，許多亞洲國家經過發展，從T恤衫階段進入了更廣闊的經濟 發展領域，首先是日本，之後是韓國、台灣和中國大陸。現在，柬埔寨、越南、印度某些地區及斯里蘭卡正在經歷這個時期。不過，孟加拉國正處在格外混亂的T恤 衫階段中。上個月，該國一棟八層樓的制衣廠房發生垮塌慘劇，致使上千名工人喪生，從而讓孟加拉國舉國震驚。問題是，孟加拉國能否像之前許多國家一樣，發展 成一個更發達的經濟體，還是會像海地一樣裹足不前。
《阿什蓋特紡織工人史指南》(Ashgate Companion to the History of Textile Workers)對21個國家過去350年的歷史做出了全面的研究，書中顯示，幾乎每個國家在T恤衫階段時，經歷的磨難都不一樣。阿根廷殘暴的「監護征賦 制」(encomienda)實際上讓土著勞工辛勞致死。哈布斯堡王朝(Hapsburg)的T恤衫階段與該王朝的崩潰時間一致。日本的進程因一次世界大戰而放緩；德國經歷兩次世界大戰後，幾乎被完全摧毀。新英格蘭紡織工人經歷的情況相對較好，如果條件得不到改善，他們可以威脅說要去邊疆拓荒。
然而，所有這些國家都經歷了同樣的廣泛現象。《阿什蓋特紡織工人史指南》的一位編者萊克斯·海爾馬·范沃斯(Lex Heerma van Voss)對我說，只有存在大量別無選擇的農民，T恤衫階段才能夠維持下去。這種現象被稱為「競次」(race to the bottom)。工廠主進行競爭的方式是壓低價格，手段是給工人支付微薄的薪水。把每件T恤衫的成本削減幾美分也許聽上去無關緊要，可是，面向大眾市場的 品牌發現，即使價格有輕微的上漲，也會抑制需求。批發時相差幾美分，到零售時里就成了幾美元。
不過，一旦工廠吸納了所有這些走投無路的工人，他們就需要 尋找新的競爭優勢，這通常涉及製造更好的產品。T恤衫階段結束時，「競優」(race to the top)階段往往就會開始。工廠通常轉而生產更精緻的衣服，如正裝襯衫，這種轉移需要熟練工。這個階段常常涉及工會的壯大和工資的上漲。接踵而至的，往往是工廠主被迫支付更多工資、被迫尋找更有利可圖的業務。這可能意味着企業向低端的電子組裝行業轉移，隨後是向汽車製造、乃至飛機製造轉移。在製造領域的高 端，就會見到美國製造業經濟目前正經歷的情況，那就是往往由擁有高等技能的工人操作機器，生產昂貴的產品，如醫療器械。
孟加拉國當前的情況是，競次的同時，競優的情況也開始了。 德克薩斯州普雷里維尤農工大學(Prairie View A&M University)商學院院長穆尼爾·古都斯(Munir Quddus)，還記得70年代，自己十幾歲時居住在孟加拉國的經歷，當時那裡還是世界上最窮的國家之一。自從20世紀70年代，紡織工業來到孟加拉國以 來，該國的貧困率已經從70%，下降到了不足40%。孟加拉人的人均生活費水平，已經從每天1美元，增加到了超過5美元。不過儘管某些工廠作出了有限的改 進（古都斯說，「有空調了」），但仍然有數千座工廠破舊不堪，缺乏監督。古都斯還指出，議會中約有10%的席位由工廠主佔據，其他工廠主也有着很強的政治 關係。其中就包括最近垮塌的工廠大樓的業主索赫爾·拉納(Sohel Rana)。
孟加拉國已經成為了世界第二大服裝出口國，服裝出口額幾乎 從零增長到了每年180億美元。古都斯說，「它可以成為一個400億到500億美元的（服裝出口）超級大國。」但這就需要通過協調，提高產業水平。政府必 須支持對工廠進行監督、改善安全條件，這就會不可避免地提高價格，並將批發商趕到其他地方。柬埔寨為了應對憤怒的罷工工人，將最低工資提高到了每月78美 元，而這是孟加拉國水平的兩倍。美國批發商從柬埔寨採購的每件T恤衫，平均需要花大約2.5美元，比孟加拉國的高82美分，這在服裝貿易中是很大的差別。 零售業採購諮詢師邁克·弗拉納根(Mike Flanagan)對我說，即使孟加拉國僅僅提價50美分，結果也將是災難性的。「那樣孟加拉國就不會有400萬個制衣業工作崗位了，」他在電子郵件中寫 道。「可能連4000個都不到。」
孟加拉國許多人擔憂，如果該國服裝製造成本過高，就會有無 數台縫紉機被送往尼日利亞、肯雅或加納的新工廠。然而全球發展中心(Center for Global Development)經濟學家維賈亞·拉瑪昌德蘭(Vijaya Ramachandran)最近對撒哈拉以南非洲國家的工業前景進行了研究，她表示，出現這種前景的可能性不大。儘管非洲國家有穩定的非熟練勞動力供應， 但較高的生活成本應該會使他們無法與孟加拉國競爭。
拉瑪昌德蘭和我試着考慮了一下哪些國家或許會繼孟加拉國之後，進入T恤衫階段。除了希望較為渺茫的緬甸之外，拉瑪昌德蘭想不出任何一個國家。現在看來，孟加拉國所處的位置，可能是長達幾個世紀的T恤衫階段的末 尾，也就是說他們現在的競次，來源於某種誤解。該國的製造商能負擔得起在價值鏈里上升一兩個層次。他們不僅能向員工支付更高工資、改善工作條件，讓他們在 安全、乾淨的工廠工作，而且有很強的經濟動力去這樣做。
亞當·戴維森(Adam Davidson)是NPR播客和博客「金錢星球」(Planet Money)的聯合創始人。
Economic Recovery, Made in Bangladesh?
May 16, 2013
A couple of years ago, I was in an industrial park in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as a textiles executive pitched me on becoming a rich T-shirt manufacturer. It was easy, he said, to teach basic sewing to even the most poorly educated farmers. If I could spend $500,000 on used sewing machines (he knew a guy), rent a concrete building with no air-conditioning and hire a few dozen peyizan (Creole for “peasants”) for around $3 per day, I could recoup my investment within two years. And if it didn’t work out, he noted, I could sell the equipment to an entrepreneur in another poor nation.
Nearly every rich country has gone through a “T-shirt phase” — an economic period in which there are a significant number of poor farmers who, rather than toil on unproductive land, accept harsh work conditions and low wages in textile and apparel factories. Britain started its T-shirt phase in the late 18th century; the United States had two — New England in the 19th century, then the South in the 20th. During the last 80 or so years, many Asian countries — first Japan, then Korea, Taiwan and China — progressed from the T-shirt phase into broader economic development. Cambodia, Vietnam, parts of India and Sri Lanka are passing through this now. But Bangladesh, where an eight-story apparel factory tragically collapsed last month, killing hundreds of workers and devastating the country, is in the midst of a particularly confusing T-shirt phase. The question is whether it will emerge into a more developed economy, like its many predecessors, or remain stuck, like Haiti.
According to the comprehensive “Ashgate Companion to the History of Textile Workers,” a study of 21 countries over 350 years, nearly every nation suffered through its T-shirt phase differently. Argentina’s brutal encomienda system literally worked indigenous laborers to death. The Hapsburg monarchy’s T-shirt phase coincided with its own collapse. Japan’s progress was slowed by a world war; Germany’s was all but destroyed by two. New England’s textile workers had it relatively good; if conditions didn’t improve, they could threaten to leave for the frontier.
All these countries, however, experienced the same broad phenomenon. Lex Heerma van Voss, an editor of the “Ashgate Companion,” told me that the T-shirt phase lasts only as long as there are large populations of farmers with few options. This is known as a “race to the bottom.” Factory owners compete by offering low prices, which are accomplished by paying workers tiny wages. Cutting costs by a few pennies per shirt may sound trivial, but mass-market brands find that even a slight increase in price destroys demand. And those pennies at wholesale become dollars at retail.
But once the factories have absorbed all these desperate farmers, they need to find a new competitive advantage. That usually involves making better products. When the T-shirt phase ends, a “race to the top” usually begins. Factories often shift to finer clothes, like dress shirts, which require skilled workers. This phase often involves the growth of unions and rising wages. It’s typically followed by one in which factory owners, forced to pay more, seek out ever more profitable lines of business. That can mean the move to low-end electronics assembly, then auto plants and maybe even airplane manufacturing. At the high end of the spectrum, you begin to see what the U.S. manufacturing economy is going through now — expensive products, like medical devices, which are often made by machines that are operated by highly skilled workers.
Bangladesh is in that moment when the race to the bottom coincides with the beginning of a race to the top. Munir Quddus, dean of the business school at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, remembers living as a teenager in Bangladesh, in the ’70s, when it was one of the poorest countries on earth. Since the arrival of textile manufacturing, in the late 1970s, the country’s poverty rate has fallen to less than 40 percent from 70. The average Bangladeshi went from living on about $1 a day to more than $5. But while there have been modest improvements in some factories (“They have air-conditioning,” Quddus says), there are still thousands of decrepit ones with minimal oversight. Quddus also points out that roughly 10 percent of Parliament seats are occupied by factory owners, and others have strong political ties. This includes Sohel Rana, the owner of the factory building that recently collapsed.
Bangladesh has become the world’s second-largest apparel exporter, growing from next to nothing to $18 billion a year. “It could be a $40 or $50 billion superpower,” Quddus told me. That will require a coordinated race to the top. The government would have to support factory inspections and safer conditions, which would inevitably raise prices — and could send wholesalers elsewhere. Cambodia responded to angry worker strikes by raising its minimum wage to $78 a month, about double of that in Bangladesh. The average Cambodian T-shirt now costs an American wholesaler around $2.50, which is 82 cents more than one coming from Bangladesh — a huge differential in the apparel trade. Mike Flanagan, a retail-sourcing consultant, told me that if Bangladesh raised its prices even 50 cents, the results would be devastating. “There won’t be four million garment-making jobs in Bangladesh,” he wrote in an e-mail. “There probably won’t be 4,000.”
Many in Bangladesh fear that if the country becomes too expensive a place to make clothes, countless sewing machines will be sent to new factories in Nigeria, Kenya or Ghana. But Vijaya Ramachandran, an economist at the Center for Global Development, who recently studied the industrial prospects of sub-Saharan nations, says this outcome is unlikely. African countries may have a steady supply of unskilled labor, but a higher cost of living should keep them from competing with Bangladesh.
Ramachandran and I tried to figure out what countries might inherit Bangladesh’s T-shirt phase. Other than Burma, a long shot, Ramachandran couldn’t think of any. For now, Bangladesh might be where this centuries-long T-shirt journey ends, which means that their race to the bottom may be rooted in a misunderstanding. The country’s manufacturers can afford to take a step or two up the value chain. Not only can they pay their workers more, treat them better and house them in safe and clean factories, but there is also a significant economic incentive to do so.