The import, production or sale of synthetic lace innerwear would be banned in the Customs Union countries comprising of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, with effect from July 1, 2014, according to a decision taken by the Eurasian Economic Commission (ECE).
The ECE, a permanent regulatory body of the Customs Union, approved the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union for the Light Industry (TR TC 017/2011), which is applicable to light industry products, including clothing products that are worn as first layer or in contact with skin.
The technical regulation details safety requirements for linen, including innerwear, bed linen, corsetry and swimwear.
Appendix 2 of the Technical Regulation details biological and safety requirements for materials intended for use in lingerie and innerwear. These requirements include hygroscopicity (ability of material to absorb water vapor from the air) index, whose value should not be less than 6 percent, according to an ECE statement.
The main purpose of technical regulation of the Custom Union is to protect life and/or human health, property, the environment, life and/or animal and plant health, and prevention of actions that mislead consumers.
The requirements established in the technical regulations of the Customs Union take into account the specific features associated with the climatic and geographical factors of states—members of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, the statement said.
According to the ECE, the hygroscopicity index value provision is not new and is already a part of requirements under the laws of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.
Although the legislation is intended to protect consumers from low-quality materials that could have a negative health impact, the regulation is framed in a manner which is interpreted as banning of all innerwear that is made of non-natural or synthetic material and that does not meet the 6 percent absorption threshold.
It is estimated that around 80-90 percent of women’s innerwear in the Customs Union countries do not meet the requirements, and hence outlets would end up with huge unsold stock if the law is not amended.
But the procedure for amending ECE’s technical regulation is time consuming, and it cannot be completed before the July 1 deadline even if the process is started now. It is because the process of making change in technical regulations has three stages. The first stage of considering the draft amendment takes about two months time, followed by another two months time for public debate, and then the final procedure of making change in the regulation.
In Russia alone, the volume of innerwear sales is estimated to beover €4 billion a year, with 80 percent of the goods being imported, according to the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs of Textile and Light Industry.