07:27:32 local time CHINA
* China July exports slow sharply:
China’s export growth slowed sharply to a six-month low in July on dwindling foreign demand, strengthening anticipation for weak trade performance for the whole year and more government action to support the economy.
Exports rose 1 percent year on year to 176.9 billion US dollars in July, plummeting from the 11.3-percent growth seen in June and well below market expectations, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Friday.
Imports also lost steam, increasing 4.7 percent year on year to 151.8 billion US dollars, compared with a growth of 6.3 percent in June.
Foreign trade expanded 2.7 percent year on year to 328.7 billion US dollars in July, according to the GAC data.
“The July data were poor indeed,” said Zheng Yuesheng, head of the GAC statistical department. “It will be an arduous task to fulfill our foreign trade target, as external demand is weak.”
Grim prospects for the global economy and increasing labor costs and trade disputes will continue to drag down exports in August, it forecast. read more.
* H&M, Zara stuck in quality scandals in China:
International fast fashion brands making inroads into China have had numerous quality issues in recent years, and are not as high-quality as some imagine. H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, was recently “blacklisted” in Shanghai again.
According to the China National Radio, the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce said in a statement that 43 batches of clothing failed its recent spot check, including the clothing from famous brands such as H&M and Zara. The problems with the clothing include excessive PH levels, low color fastness, weak crack resistance, and lower fiber content than claimed as well as non-standard product identification. read more.
* Shenzhen has the highest minimum wage:
Shenzhen has the highest minimum wage — 1,500 yuan ($236) a month — among 18 regions that have adjusted their pay standards for lower-income groups.
Shanghai municipality and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region followed Shenzhen at the top of the list, with minimum monthly wages of 1,450 yuan and 1,340 yuan respectively.
Beijing has the highest hourly salary, at 14 yuan, followed by 13.4 yuan in Xinjiang and 13.3 yuan in Shenzhen.
The Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has the lowest hourly minimum wage, at 8.5 yuan. read more.
07:27:32 local time PHILIPPINES
* ‘Project Stitch’ mends lives:
The livelihood program for women in Metro Manila’s poor communities which was launched by Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler), a nongovernment organization, has been named one of the nine finalists in Project Inspire’s “5 Minutes to Change the World.”
An annual initiative sponsored by the UN Women’s National Committee Singapore and MasterCard, Project Inspire lets young people from all over the world share their life-changing ideas and fulfill their vision of a better world for disadvantaged women and children in the Asia/Pacific region, Middle East and Africa.
“We are very happy with the inclusion of Project Stitch in the list of finalists. By making it to the finals, we have already contributed to raising awareness on the plight of Filipino garment workers who carry the burden of raising their families amid limited economic opportunities,” Manzano said. read more….
* From wage freeze to wage cuts: Aquino government pilots two-tier wage system:
Before May 1 this year, there was talk in Congress that the decade-long proposal to legislate a P125 ($2.99) minimum wage hike is finally nearing plenary consideration. The House Committee on Labor announced last March their imminent submission for plenary debates of the P125 wage hike bill. After holding public consultations, they concluded that indeed, Filipino workers both need and deserve the raise, and capitalists can afford it.
But the Aquino government unveiled a new wage policy called two-tier wage system last May. Since then, we hear no more updates on wage hike legislation. Now, based on media reports, the battle lines for wage hike seem to be drawn between the labor sector decrying the P30 ($0.72) staggered wage hike granted in the National Capital Region as paltry – but one they will take anyway – and the employers who want it rescinded.
Southern Tagalog workers press for legislated P125 wage hike in labor day rally. (Photo courtesy of Pamantik-KMU / bulatlat.com)
The real wages of Filipino workers have “flattened,” or did not increase in real value, over the past decade, said the independent think-tank Ibon Foundation. It said that the wage orders have failed to make up for lost purchasing power over the years, as prices increase without letup, led by price and rate hikes of products and services of deregulated strategic industries such as oil, utilities, healthcare, etc. Various labor groups cite this as reason for pressing for substantial wage hike via legislation. Another reason they often cite is the rising productivity and profits of companies in the Philippines. read more.
* Freeze prices amid disaster, Aquino told:
Heavy rains and massive flooding this week have forced millions in Luzon to suspend their activities and help one another. But for the deregulated and privatized oil companies and public utilities, even disasters have failed to stay their hands in imposing price hikes.
Shell and Petron increased this week its gasoline by P0.80 ($0.019) per liter, diesel by P0.40 ($0.0096) per liter, and kerosene by P0.30 ($0.0072)per liter. Total raised their gas price by P0.80 ($0.019) per liter, and diesel by P0.40 ($0.0096) per liter.
Meanwhile, Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s largest distributor of electricity, raised power charges by P28 ($0.6702) for consumers using 100 kWh and P56 ($1.3404) for those using 200kWh. Consumers consuming 300kWh and 400 kWh monthly will shell out P84 ($2.0105) and P112 ($2.6807) respectively starting this month. read more.
06:27:32 local time VIET NAM
* Plan to lift industrial production, quality:
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on Wednesday launched a project to improve the productivity and quality of Vietnamese industrial products through applying appropriate management solutions and renovated scientific technologies.
The project, which is part of a national programme to enhance the quality of made-in-Viet Nam products until 2020, will also set up and complete a system which includes 6,000 technical regulations on advanced production processes and management systems to lift the quality and productivity of industrial products up a notch by 2020.
Director of MoIT’s Science and Technology Department Nguyen Dinh Hiep said that the project will give priority to textile and garment, footwear, plastic, steel, chemical, mechanical engineering, power, electronic and telecommunications industries.
06:27:32 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodia attracts 692 mln USD investment in 1st 6 months:
Cambodia had issued licenses to 72 domestic and foreign investment projects in equivalent to 692 million U.S. dollars in the first half of 2012, according to a report of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) on Friday.
During the January-June period this year, domestic investment topped the chart with a total venture of 148 million U.S. dollars in 12 projects, followed by China with 141 million U.S. dollars in 19 projects, and Thailand with 84 million U.S. dollars in 4 projects.
Local investors invested in the fields of fertilizer manufacturing, beverage manufacturing, rice milling, tapioca powder processing, garment factories, hotel and resort development, and information technology, said the report. Chinese investors put their ventures here in garment and textile industry and rice mills, whilst Thailand in the fields of rice milling, footwear factory and clothe manufacturing. read more.
05:27:32 local time BANGLA DESH
* No progress in probe into Aminul killing:
Committee for justice to Aminul Islam, a garment labour leaders killed early this year demanded yesterday proper investigation into his murder case and handing over the probe to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Aminul’s daughter Saima Akhtar Ankhi at a press briefing at Dhaka Reporters unity (DRU) yesterday said the case has no progress though it has been transferred to DB.
IGP of police with some other officials visited their home on May 2 after the killing and none had visited them after that.
Meanwhile, a change has been made in the investigation team. At first DB S.I. Dulal was in charge of investigation. Tangail DB police officer- in- charge Humayun Kabir is the present chief of investigation team. Though the case was with Ghatail policestation of Tangail district it was later transferred to DB.
The present IO Humayun Kabir told reporters, ‘ if Mostafiz could be caught the mystery of the murder would beunearthed.’
He said, after getting the charge of the case he carried out raids at different places for seven days. But for the sake of investigation DB official did not agree to comment on it.
Among the suspects a long time associate of the deceased Mostafiz is the key accused whom the family of Aminul also claims to be an agent of the Intelligence department. read more.
* Workers scream rape, murder; govt denies:
Thousands of Bangladeshi female workers, working for a readymade garments factory in Jordan, have claimed to be suffering from acute sense of insecurity, raising allegations that 23-24 of their colleagues have gone ‘missing’ over the last one year.
The workers also alleged that the Indian owner of ‘Classic Fashion’ and the Bangladeshi authorities there are tied to the ‘disappearances’ and ‘killings’. The female workers are also unable to return home as their passports have been taken by the owners.
After failing to elicit positive response from the office of the Bangladeshi honorary consul there, they have, in a desperate attempt for a resolution, resorted to abstaining from work for the last three days. Allegations have also been levelled against the Bangladeshi authorities that instead of taking steps, they are ‘pressuring’ the workers to rejoin work.
However, the government has refuted the claim, dismissing the accusations of killings and forced disappearances of the workers. read more.
* RMG workers stage demo for wages:
Workers of four readymade garment (RMG) factories in Gazipur district staged demonstration on Thursday demanding payment of festival allowance and wage arrears before the Eid-ul-Fitr, reports bdnews24.com.
Those factories are DEN Sports of Sadar Board area, Epkot Appeals in Naljani area, Slinky Limited of Tongi and Gomti Textiles Limited of Kaliakoir area.
Police claimed that the workers also vandalised the factories during the demonstration.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Mahfuz Alam of the Industrial Police (Zone-2) told bdnews24.com that the workers, employees and officers of the DEN Sports were yet to get their wages for the last two months-June and July.
Although the factory management had committed to pay the dues on Thursday morning, they did not keep the word. “As a result, the workers went for work abstention and blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway for around an hour from 11am, creating a severe traffic gridlock on both sides of the highway.”
Vehicular movement on the highway resumed around 12pm after policemen assured the angry workers of negotiating the issue with the factory management.
read more. & read more.
* China’s clothes retailer relocates part of business to Bangladesh:
Vancl, a Chinese online clothes retailer, is relocating part of its production set-up to Bangladesh to reduce costs of production, Global Times reported on Wednesday.
“Labour costs have been greatly reduced by moving part of the production set-up to Bangladesh,” the Chinese newspaper quoted Chen Chu, public relations director at Vancl, as saying.
The new move could cut 5-10 percent of the cost for each item, according to the newspaper.
Chen said the labour cost in China, the world’s largest apparel supplier, surged to $400 per person per month while the labour cost in Bangladesh varies at $75-$80 per person per month.
Following higher cost of production and shortage of workers, the Chinese garment traders are either relocating their production base or sourcing from other countries such as Bangladesh. read more. & read more.
* Govt trying to increase rates of RMG workers’ allowances:
The government has moved forward to compensate the ‘low paid’ apparel workers by raising the rates of allowances as the factory owners are reluctant to raise wages now, sources said.
Last week the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has asked the Labour Director and the Chief Inspector of Factories to sit with the apparel factory owners and convince the latter to raise different allowances like house rent, and over-time work rates.
The government has taken the new move against the backdrop of demand from the apparel factory workers to raise their wages to compensate for the hike in living costs.
Several months back the apparel factory workers in Savar area burst into protest demanding hike in wages and other allowances. They vandalised vehicles and apparel factories and clashed with law enforcers to press home their demand.
* RMG workers agitate for wage, bonus:
Several hundred workers of a garment factory staged demonstration demanding wages and festival bonuses in the capital’s Kalyanpur area Saturday, police said.
The protesting workers also blockaded the busy Mirpur-New Market Road for nearly two hours, which seriously disrupted vehicular movements at the area causing immense sufferings to passengers particularly the office- goers in the morning.
Witnesses said the trouble erupted at about 8:15am when around 1000 workers of Padma Garment located at Darus Salam Road came out on the street demanding payments in the form of salaries and festival allowances.
The protesters said the owners did not clear their monthly salaries and Eid bonuses yet despite they (workers) were assured of getting the payments by August 10. “We do not want any violence. We just want our hard earned payments,” Farzana Akhter, a garment worker said. read more.
* Textile millers unhappy for not getting 5pc cash incentive declared a year ago:
Country’s textile millers expressed their utter dismay as 5 per cent cash incentive for the sector announced by the government one year ago, is yet to be implemented.
The incentive was declared to offset losses incurred by the millers following price hike of cotton in global market from August 2010 to March 2011.
“In a positive gesture, the government responded to our appeal and announced a 5 per cent cash incentive but the millers could not avail of the opportunity due to demand of some impractical papers by Bangladesh Bank as a precondition for getting that stimulus,” Jahangir Alamin, President of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) told the Financial Express.
On November 2, 2011, the central bank issued a circular in response to BTMA’s appeal saying that all spinning/weaving/dyeing-finishing sections of textile sector that imported cotton during the period of August 2010 to March 2011 will get the 5 per cent additional cash incentive along with their other incentives.
During the period, textile millers have lost almost 1 dollar on per pound cotton due to global crisis and India’s imposing and lifting of ban on cotton export.
read more. & read more.
* Apparel workers rally for wage, festival allowance:
Apparel workers blocked roads and vandalised factories in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Feni on Saturday demanding payment of their dues and festival allowance before Eid.
Workers blocked a road at Mirpur in the capital demanding payment of their wages and the festival allowance in the morning. The roads had been blocked for an hour and a half.
Several hundred workers of Blazer Apparels Factory of High Fashion Limited, blocked the Mirpur Road at Darussalam about 9:00am, demanding the payment of the wages for July, for 15 days of August and the festival allowance before Eid.
The demonstrations triggered a severe traffic congestion and communications remained suspended on the busy road. read more.
* High prices make Eid look bleak to the poor:
High prices have held back the poor and low-income group people from going even to the footpath shops to do their buying for Eid celebration.
RMG workers, auto-rickshaw drivers, bus drivers, domestic helps and rickshaw-pullers have vented their frustration saying the increased prices of clothes, shoes and other items are hitting them hard.
Bijlee Akhtar, a garment worker from Lalbag who came to roadside shops at Gulistan, said the shops were charging much more for all items compared to the previous year.
‘I have to spend more going beyond my shopping budget,’ she said.
Sabina Begum, another garment worker, said she did not come to buy things but just to look around the market as she was yet to get her salary. read more.
04:57:32 local time INDIA
* Desperate spinners quote higher bids for cotton:
Heavy demand from spinners buoyed cotton by Rs 300 a quintal this week. Arrivals have decreased as the season ends. Spinners, in need of huge stocks to meet orders from textile firms, quoted higher for the fibre.
Because of rain, Wednesday’s auctions at Bhoodapady Regulated Marketing Committee were postponed to Thursday. All the 6,000 bags (2,100 quintals) kept for sale were sold. Chellasamy, a farmer, said: “The present price is lower compared with a fortnight ago. Arrivals will fall from next week when we are hopeful of getting more the produce.” read more.
* State ban on Bt cotton seeds sold by Mahyco:
Confirming the widespread doubts in the Indian farming community about the efficiency of genetically modified cotton seeds, the Maharashtra government has banned the sale and distribution of Bt cotton seeds by a US multinational giant.
The state announced its decision after Mahyco, the Maharashtra-based partner of the Monsanto group, failed its appeal against a show-cause notice. The company was served a notice over allegations of hoarding and over-pricing. read more.
* Handlooms weave a success story:
At a time when there is a huge demand for embroidered georgette and chiffon sarees, handloom weaves of Odisha have made a strong comeback. Boyanika has had an average annual turnover of Rs 50 crore, after it was restructured in 2007.
In the last five years, Odissi handlooms have become an epitome of elegance, sophistication and beauty. The weaves are being preferred because these can be worn both in summer and winter. There is also an array of materials to choose from and these can be made into salwar-kameezes, kurtas, handkerchiefs, scarves and sarees.
“The revival of Boyanika was possible because of the innovative approach of weavers. One can even find designer wear in handlooms today. When it became tough for weavers to sell their product, the government stepped in. Now Boyanika is a successful brand in India and abroad and we have plans to open many new outlets and export to Sri Lanka and Fiji,” said S R Sahu, managing director of Boyanika.
* RBI rejects debt SOS from textile companies:
The textile industry is deeply in debt. And the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, has refused — on flimsy grounds — to restructure its bank loans.
The industry accounts for 4.6% of the country’s GDP. With more than 30 million people working at various levels with numerous textile firms, it is also the second largest employment generator. It accounts for 10.5% of the country’s exports and 14% of the industrial production.
But the RBI has ignored these facts, putting the future of the millions of people dependent on the industry, the firms and the banks that have lent crores, at risk.
Fluctuating cotton prices coupled with a poor demand for textile goods have made it difficult for small and medium textile units to repay loans as well as finance working capitals (the cash needed by an organisation for its day-to-day operations).
* Maharashtra may revisit redevelopment of textile mill land:
The Maharashtra government may reconsider the redevelopment of land by private textile mills in Mumbai. The state urban development is expected to prepare a status report on this soon.
The move is triggered by a Supreme Court judgment, directing Bombay Dyeing Mills to hand over a third of its land each to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) in six months, under the state’s development control rules.
The land would be used to develop open areas like gardens, transit camps and housing for mill workers.
According to data compiled by the state urban development department, 32 private textile mills were scheduled to hand over 1,05,000 sq mts to BMC and 62,000 sq mts to Mhada. However, so far, BMC has secured just 38,000 sq mts. The Supreme Court had asked the company to hand over 33 per cent of the company’s land each to BMC and Mhada. read more.
04:57:32 local time SRI LANKA
* Apparel industry in a fix, EU exports drop 10-15:
The apparel industry is bracing for hard times with exports dipping by about 10-15% to the European Union (EU) alone and tightening competition as the withdrawal of GSP+ concessions takes effect.
As the largest foreign exchange earner and the largest employer in the country, the industry is now looking at opportunities through bilateral ties with high importing countries like Brazil and Turkey, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Rohan Abaykoon told the Business Times.
But, discussions with the Export Development Board (EDB) on this matter had not generated any support yet, it was pointed out. Industry heads meeting with the government have pushed for a number of changes. Requests were made to consider obtaining the GSP+ concessions for Sri Lanka; removing the tax on capital goods that amounts to 7-8 per cent of total costs; and establish bilateral ties with countries like Brazil and Turkey in a bid to find new export markets. “I think the effects of the loss of the GSP + concessions is now catching up on us,” he said adding that overall the industry has faced a 5 per cent drop up to May compared to last year both in value and volume. read more.
* Tough action against UNP shirkers:
UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe yesterday (July 29) said that strong disciplinary action would be taken against party activists who betrayed the party and its supporters.
He instructed general secretary Tissa Attanayake to act against those who neglected to support candidates at the upcoming provincial council polls.
Mr. Wickremesinghe issued the order at the Ampara Daya Apparel conference room, where he addressed UNP candidates in the fray in Ampara.
When the party and the people of the country were facing many difficulties due to lawlessness and the dictatorial regime, it was the duty of all UNP politicians to work together to defeat the government, he said. read more.
04:27:32 local time PAKISTAN
* Aptma welcomes cut in discount rate:
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Mohsin Aziz has welcomed cut in discount rate by 150 bps by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and termed it a good omen for investment and growth in the country.
He said it is a positive move towards the right direction and needed to be continued further until the lending rate drops down to single digit. Mohsin said that the lending rate has practically come down to four percent in the region and similar approach is needed to be followed in Pakistan.
Chairman Aptma expressed his deep gratitude to the Governor SBP and his team for extending a patient hearing to the Aptma submissions during his visit to the Aptma. He said that it is now a proven fact that impact of credit off take in developed countries is entirely different from the under developed countries. The credit off take increases when lending rates are reduced that pushes the prices up in the developed world. But there is no significant upward change in prices of essential items in underdeveloped countries, as inflation rates remain under control in countries like Pakistan with increase in productivity, he stressed. read more.
* Cut in policy rate first step towards industrial revival- Gohar
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Group Leader Gohar Ejaz has said that 1.5 percent decrease in policy rate to 10.5 percent is the first step towards reviving industry in Pakistan.
It had further to be brought down to 7.5 percent for new industrial activity and stimulus growth to generate employment in economy, he said this while reacting to the 1.5 percent cut in discount rate by the State Bank of Pakistan on Friday.
Gohar said the government had taken a positive step after realising the importance of private sector’s industrial activity which had come to a standstill since the wrong myth of controlling inflation by keeping interest rates high in Pakistan. Resultantly, he said, Pakistan economy had not worked but all the entrepreneurs had moved to the sidelines since four years that led to stagnation in growth and employment.
* Textile exporters term SBP decision ‘a good message’:
Textile exporters have hailed the State Bank’s decision to slash discount rate by 150 basis points to 10.5 percent and termed it as progressive and realistic support to Pakistani textile exports.
Reduction in interest rate is a step in the right direction but this decision is not enough to put the trade and industry back on track as interest rate is still too high and should be brought down to single digit.
Talking to newsmen, Rana Arif Touseef, Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), termed it a good message delivered by the government; however, bringing the discount rate at single digit would be more beneficial for the promotion of trade and industry in the country, he added. read more.
* Monetary Policy: Interest rate cut not enough, say exporters:
Textile exporters, while welcoming a 150-basis-point reduction in interest rate, have said the move is not enough to put the trade and industry back on track as the interest rate is still very high and should be brought down to single digit.
They were responding to the cut in discount rate to 10.5% in the monetary policy, announced by the State Bank of Pakistan on Friday. They termed the decision a realistic support to the textile industry and a step in the right direction.
Talking to the media here on Saturday, Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Rana Arif Tauseef pointed out that bringing the discount rate down to single digits would prove more beneficial for the promotion of trade and industry.
* SCC resolves case, positive impact expected in textile sector:
The Special Commercial Court (SCC) Sindh, Balochistan has announced its decision on a case of fraud and breach of contract involving a foreign designer brand and Shan Textiles, Karachi, which is expected to bring a positive light to the textile industry of Pakistan.
SCC Sindh, Balochistan, headed by its chairman Sathi Ishaque, ordered Shan Textiles to pay damages to the tune of $61,000 to the foreign buyer for shipping rejected and damaged goods.
The court, after hearings, finally gave the judgment and declared the act of the exporter (Shan Textiles) tantamount to cheating and ordered them to compensate the damages. The most significant aspect of this decision is that it will create a highly positive impact and raise the image and credibility of Pakistan in the business circles of the US and Europe, where Pakistan has been demanding a sizeable free access to markets.
The case started in 2009-10, when the SCC Sindh, Balochistan received complaint of fraud and breach of contract by D Michael Painter of Quivera LLC, California, USA – the sourcing agent for the designer’s brand – through Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). read more.
* ILO warns of opposite effect of wage cuts:
The International Labor Organization (ILO) warned on Friday that cutting wages in a bid to boost competitiveness and cut unemployment may turn out to hurt economic growth.
The warning was issued after the European Central Bank (ECB) called in its monthly report for August for more flexibility in the wage determination process, such as lowering minimum wages.
Patrick Belser, a senior economist with the ILO said that decrease in wages does tend to lead to an increase in exports, but it also decreases domestic consumption, which affects growth.
Given the level of economic uncertainty at the moment, it is unclear whether wage cuts would generate enough incentives to raise investment, the expert said.
The ILO also warned that seeking to regain competitiveness through lower unit labor costs by slashing wages or letting productivity grow faster than wages would be unsustainable globally. read more. & read more.