January 2010—The world's first textile and garment industry service standards have been put in place in the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help suppliers remain competitive in the post-quota era.
Suppliers that meet the standards will be able to join the Source ASEAN Full Service Alliance (SAFSA), a program that will form "virtual vertical factories" (VVFs) in the region to meet the demands of international garment buyers.
SAFSA recognizes that garment factories must do more than manufacture; they must also offer retailers and importers fabric sourcing, pattern making, sample making, and logistics services. All these services are available in ASEAN but seldom in a single company or country. VVFs will combine the services of multiple mills and factories to provide a full range of services to customers.
SAFSA was developed under the ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) program, managed by Nathan Associates and funded by USAID, in consultation with international buyers and ASEAN suppliers. In January, ACE forged a partnership between the ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries and the SGS Group—the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company—to audit 19 new quality service standards to ensure that SAFSA VVFs offer a true full-service product.
The ACE project has been working with AFTEX since 2008 to make the textile and apparel supply chain in ASEAN competitive and integrated.