Ivanka Trump is set to arrive in Hyderabad, India, on Tuesday for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a three-day gathering sponsored by the State Department, amid questions over her clothing label’s manufacturing practices and use of overseas facilities.
The first daughter and presidential adviser is leading the U.S. delegation to the annual summit, which this year is focused on “supporting women’s entrepreneurship.” News of the trip sparked multiple controversies, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson not sending senior officials on the trip and Hyderabad police rounding up beggars from city streets in anticipation of Trump’s arrival.
Trump’s visit to India has also drawn scrutiny because of her clothing line’s relationship to the country.
As The Washington Post reported in July, Trump’s brand — which saw wholesale revenue rise to $47.3 million in 2016 — is manufactured entirely overseas. The Post’s investigation concluded that some of Trump’s clothes are made in India, as well as in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Her company’s use of facilities in these countries clashes with the White House’s public promotion of products made in the U.S., which President Donald Trump highlighted during “Made in America” week in July. (That move also drew plenty of ire, with critics pointing out that many Donald Trump–branded products aren’t actually manufactured in the U.S.)
Manufacturing clothing in India and Bangladesh has also raised questions over Trump’s commitment to female empowerment in the workplace — a cause she’s claimed to champion in her father’s administration.
In India, for example, the garment industry’s 45 million workers — most of whom are women — face extremely low wages (in some cases, as low as $100 a month) and dangerous working conditions. Sexual harassment and assault is also rampant. A 2016 report revealed that one in seven women garment workers in Bengaluru say they’ve either been raped or forced to perform a sex act while at work.
In neighboring Bangladesh, garment workers are paid even lower wages, on average, than their counterparts in India. And while building regulations for factories have improved somewhat since the 2013 factory collapse in Rana Plaza that killed more than 1,100 people, many facilities have much more work to do to improve working conditions.
Trump’s brand also came under fire from a labor rights group for producing goods at Chinese facilities that allegedly paid workers roughly one dollar an hour. As in India and Bangladesh, the Chinese garment workforce is predominantly female.
Trump, as The Washington Post pointed out Sunday, has not commented on the working conditions the women who make her brand’s clothing face, even as she has spoken out on empowering women in other industries.
In response to allegations of ties with unsafe factories where workers are underpaid, the Ivanka Trump company said in May that the brand is “committed to only working with licensees who maintain internationally recognized labor standards across their supply chains.” Trump still owns the company, but is not involved in its daily operations.
“Our licensees and their manufacturers, subcontractors and suppliers must comply with all applicable local and international labor laws, and the legal and ethical practices set forth in our vendor code of conduct,” said Abigail Klem, the brand’s president.
The company, however, didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s questions about what facilities the brand uses in India and what became of the company’s inquiry into hiring a nonprofit workers’ rights group to aid with oversight efforts at those facilities.
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