in the news on-line, 22 august 2012

00:33:30 local time map of china CHINA

* KKR buys into Novo, bets on China youth apparel market:

Global buyout fund KKR & Co L.P. has placed a bet on China’s US$38 billion youth apparel retail market, saying on Wednesday that it will acquire a stake in privately held retailer Novo Holdco Ltd for $30 million.
China’s retail sales continue to pull back, but KKR sees its investment in Novo as a longterm bet, allowing the retailer to triple its stores in China and lock in lower rents now through 10year contracts, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. KKR gave no further details of the investment in a statement, but the source said it would buy about 40 percent of the company and gain two seats on the fivemember board. The source declined to be named as many details of the deal were private. The investment gives KKR new shares and the existing investors are locked in until the fund exits, the source said. “We see enormous longterm potential in the Chinese fashion retail industry, driven by rising domestic consumption and an increasing demand for the latest fashion trends,” said David Liu, member of KKR and CEO of KKR Greater China.read more. & read more.
   

* China’s foreign trade boom:

Growth in foreign trade over the past decade has turned China into a leading country when it comes to international business.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the last ten years has seen the country’s rapid integration into the world economy in an era of economic globalization. On Tuesday, the NBS published its fourth report reviewing the country’s development since the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in late 2002.

The Chinese economy is increasingly interconnected and becoming interdependent within the world market. read more.

* Companies asked to report on social responsibility:

The China Association of Public Companies urged listed companies to publish corporate social responsibility reports.

The move would allow companies to timely release operational information, focus on investors’ returns and boost market confidence, the association said.
By the end of April, 586 companies listed on the A-share market had released 592 corporate social responsibility reports.
The figure increased 11.49 percent compared with a year earlier. However, those companies only accounted for 25 percent of the total A-share companies.
read more.

00:33:30 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Improving Working Conditions in Philippines EPZs:

On Friday 17th August, IndustriALL and ITUC affiliates met with sportswear brands and suppliers in Cebu, the Philippines, to discuss the barriers to workers’ rights in the Mactan Processing Zone, and to explore possibilities for working together to improve working conditions in the Zone.

Following the publication of a report on working conditions in the Zone, the meeting brought together adidas, Brooks Running and New Balance, together with their key suppliers the Sintex corporation, the Department of Labor and Employment, unions and labour rights NGOs.

The stakeholders agreed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the promotion of freedom of association and full implementation of labour laws and standards in the apparel industry. In the agreement, the parties commit to working together on a number of issues including precarious work, the lack of authentic worker representation, the low awareness of workers’ rights, wages and inadequate grievance mechanisms. read more.

23:33:30 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garment sector attracts investors since WTO membership:

Vietnam’s garment sector has attracted as many as 485 FDI projects worth more than 2 billion USD since the country became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2007.

The sector has also seen an annual growth rate of nearly 22 percent in the five year period, according to Le Tien Truong, Deputy Chairman of the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association.
In the first seven months of 2012, it earned 9.24 billion USD from export, showing a year-on-year increase of 7.6 percent and accounting for 16 percent of the country’s total export value.
Vietnam has become the second largest garment exporter to the US, third largest to Japan, and fifth largest to the European Union, he said. to read.

23:33:30 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* ‘Sexually harassed’ workers stick to their guns:

Police confront striking workers employed by Ocean Garment Co Ltd during a protest in Phnom Penh on Monday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Ocean Garment yesterday refused to meet the sole demand of thousands of striking workers to have their manager, accused of sexual harassment, sacked.

An inter-governmental ministerial committee met with union and employer representatives, but Bangladeshi-owned Ocean Garment – which supplies retail titan Gap – refused to terminate the manager accused by workers of misconduct.

More than 2,500 of the Phnom Penh factory’s 4,000-strong work force have been on strike since August 11, and the allegedly abused women yesterday announced they would be pressing criminal charges.
Worker representative Keo Kim Heang said workers were left feeling thwarted, having expected a positive outcome.

“He asked the workers to go out with and then have sex with him, especially the beautiful workers. He was so angry when the workers rejected his advances and they are very worried for their security,” she said.
Four women claimed to have endured repeated sexual harassment from the manager for almost a month now. read more.

* Workers faint at Macao-owned factory in Kg Chhnang:

Twenty-three workers at  Macau-owned M & V International Manufacturing Ltd fainted Tuesday in the second such incident this month, sources said.

The sources said the fainting began in Building L gradually spread to other workers.
While those who fainted were sent to hospitals, other workers who suffered headaches and felt dizzy were not allowed to leave the factory, the sources said.
A similar fainting episode occurred at the factory in mid-August. to read.

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

1. ‘Harassed’ workers stick to their guns.read more.

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:

2. Garment workers go to court against manager.read more.
3.  Second fainting in a week at M&V garment factory.read more.

00:33:30 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* MTUC wants old benefits restored:

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has called on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Board to immediately restore the old formula for the payment of death and incapacitation benefits to the 6.28 million active members.

Under that formula, members were entitled to a one-off payment of between RM1,000 to RM30,000 from the EPF’s Death and Incapacitation Benefit Fund, said MTUC vice-president A. Balasubramaniam.
Currently, however, they were only paid RM5,000 for incapacitation and a flat rate of RM2,500 for death from the fund, he told Bernama here today.
He pointed out that the payment was inadequate, in view of the fact that Malaysia did not have any unemployment benefits system or a national insurance scheme for private sector workers.It also did not have a national health policy to support the unemployed and their families when the main bread winner suddenly died or was incapacitated, he said. read more.

00:33:30 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Chinese textile companies to relocate to RI:

Two textile manufacturers in China plan to relocate their factories to Indonesia, says Indonesian Ambassador to China Imron Cotan.

The manufacturers expressed their intentions during a meeting of the Aigo Entrepreneurs Alliance (AEA), a coalition of key Chinese entrepreneurs, he added.
“Indonesia’s positive investment climate is the main reason for their plan. We also have several investment policies designed to attract foreign investors. All of these are making Indonesia a top destination for investment,” Imron said in Beijing as quoted by Antara news agency on Monday.
China’s “go global” policy has triggered the expansion of Chinese manufacturing to foreign countries, Imron said. read more.

22:18:30 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* Surya garment wears deserted look, machinery remains idle:

Once crowded with hundreds of women employees, Surya Nepal-run garment factory at Taksinbari, Morang, has remained calm since last year after its management announced its closure citing workers’ highhandedness. 
Only a few security guards are found giving security to factory machinery. Former workers, pinning hopes of rejoining the factory, have been disappointed after no effort was made to bring the factory into operation.
Surya Nepal has not yet decided whether to run the factory. It has not taken away any machinery outside the factory even after a year. There are four buildings on the factory premises that spreads over six bighas of land. The property worth Rs 500 million has remained unused following the closure of the factory, according to Surya Nepal.
“The administration hasn’t yet decided to bring any new industry,” said Ravi KC, corporate vice-president of Surya Nepal. “We have been studying where the investment is secure,” he said. “Hopefully, we will come up with a new investment plan shortly.”
After the closure of the garment factory, the company was studying the possibility of opening a factory related to milk, noodles and shampoo among others. However, the political uncertainty following the dissolution of constituent assembly means the management is biding time to make further investment. read more.

22:03:30 local time map of india INDIA

* Untangling the knot between Mumbai and its textile mills:

Vitthal Sontakke was a boy of 13 when some 250,000 textile workers in Mumbai put down their tools in support of a strike called by militant trade unionist Datta Samant 30 years ago.

His father was a substitute worker at the Bombay Dyeing mill when the strike began to press for better pay and regular work for temps. It proved to be the biggest industrial dispute in Indian history and eventually led to the demise of the Mumbai textile industry.

The textile industry was the largest source of employment in Mumbai, and its fall reshaped many destinies in the mill district of south-central Mumbai, also known as Girangaon (village of the mills). The breadwinners of some 100,000 families were left without jobs in a city whose fortunes had, for 150 years, been intertwined with those of its textile mills.

The untangling of the knot between Mumbai and the mills over the past three decades—as the mills gave way to malls and residential towers—marks one of the most dramatic—and for families of mill works, the most disruptive—urban transformations India has ever seen. read more.

* Central bank gives partial go-ahead for textile companies’ debt recast:

Shedding its initial reluctance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has approved a part of the debt recast proposal for troubled textile companies. According to sources, the government and the central bank have allowed public sector banks to recast loans worth R12,700 crore taken by textile firms.

As per the plan, SBI will restructure loans worth R2,000 crore, Bank of Baroda R1,093 crore, IDBI Bank R900 crore, Bank of India R500 crore and Punjab National Bank R470 crore, official sources said.

The recast is in the form of a two-year moratorium (principal plus interest) on term loans and conversion of working capital into working capital term loan in three-five years. The total exposure of the banks to the textile industry amounts to R1.71 lakh crore. The central bank, however, remains firm on its stance that a second restructuring of textile loans will not get any relaxation on the asset qualification front.
read more.

* H&M tweaks strategy, scouts for India partner:

Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) may induct a local partner to enter India as policy flip-flops deter global brands from coming into the country with 100% ownership.
H&M, which is the second-largest European apparel maker after Spanish behemoth Inditex Group, held talks recently with potential Indian partners, said people briefed on the development. H&M, like its iconic Swedish peer IKEA, had waited for India to allow 100% FDI in single-brand retail to firm up entry plans.

The government unveiled full foreign ownership of single-brand retail operations late last year but insisted on at least 30% local sourcing to avail 100% FDI. Watering down of the sourcing norms have been anticipated but there’s no clarity coming forth at the moment. Ikea, which had announced big investment plans for India, has delayed the same pending regulatory clarifications.read more.

* Cotton shortage hits textile mills:

The Cotton Advisory Board will meet on August 23 to estimate the cotton production and consumption pattern in 2012-13 (October to September) and also the current cotton scenario in the country.

With the current season (2011-12) coming to an end, the textile mills are facing shortage of domestic cotton. Imported cotton, mainly from Africa, started coming in during the last few weeks and hence, prices have stabilised. But there is a concern about availability of quality domestic cotton.
In the previous meeting, the board estimated the closing stock for this year to be 25 lakh bales. However, consumption by textile mills had increased by nearly 10 lakh bales and exports by 15 lakh bales, compared to the April assessment of 232 lakh bales consumption and 115 lakh bales exports.

The textile industry was already feeling the impact of almost nil closing stock for the year, says chairman of Southern India Mills’ Association S. Dinakaran.

Production loss
The cotton that was available in the market now was not of the best quality and this had resulted in mills facing nearly 15 per cent production loss and wastage. However, prices of cone yarn, which is used by the weaving units, have increased by only Rs. 5 to Rs. 20 a kg. read more.

* Biotech’s step back:

The recommendation by the parliamentary committee on agriculture that field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops be stopped is both a retrograde and short-sighted move.
It seeks to end the application of biotechnology for the good of agriculture and, in the longer run, even the industrial and medical sectors. Regardless of the validity of its criticism of existing GM crop testing infrastructure and procedures, the panel’s report – presented to Parliament last week – oddly suggests that there have been no significant socio-economic benefits from transgenic Bt cotton to farmers, and that there are better non-GM options available for enhancing food production.

There is, in fact, strong evidence of the gains accruing to farmers thanks to the cotton revolution triggered by transgenic seeds. The committee’s charge that the Bt hybrids have curtailed the farmers’ option to use non-Bt seeds, too, sounds far-fetched. After all, farmers themselves have found merit in the use of insect-protected Bt hybrids and switched over from traditional seeds en masse. There is no way the biotech industry could force its costly seeds on unwilling farmers. The availability of conventional seeds has dwindled largely in response to the erosion of their demand. read more.

22:03:30 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Rights mar Sri Lankan trade:

Sri Lanka is in for some hard bargaining when it negotiates a new aid pact in 2013 with the European Union, which withdrew a key trade concession two years ago over this country’s human-rights record.

Bernard Savage, head of the EU delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, says political differences do not affect trade. “There are no specific irritants [at the moment] and I would like to stress that in the normal run of affairs political differences do not affect trade.”
Savage told IPS in an interview that the issue of withdrawal of EU trade concessions was a specific case. “But, if you look at the broad spectrum of trade relations … that was not affected by short-term considerations.”
However, human-rights lawyer J C Weliamuna believes that trade and aid are invariably linked to human-rights and corruption – two sectors where Sri Lanka has been asked to show tangible progress. read more.

* GSP + ‘A closed chapter’ :

The European Union representative in Sri Lanka has stated that aid to the country was “unlikely” to increase and trade concessions revoked from the country will not be reinstated, urging the country to “move on” from the issue.

Bernard Savage, Head of the Delegation of the EU in Sri Lanka stated that,
“We have had no request from the government for a new facility.”
“To use the words of the Minister of External Affairs (GL Peiris) this is a closed chapter (in our relationship). The fact is that GSP+ was withdrawn and there has been no further discussion on that issue and Sri Lanka has not re-applied. We need to move on.”

The statement comes as the withdrawal of the concessions from 2010 begins to take hold, with garment exports to the EU falling 10-15% this year, and further falls predicted. read more.

* US readying for fresh bilateral boost:

United States wants to explore new opportunities in resurgent Sri Lanka to boost bilateral trade levels to high levels through a new round of initiatives.

“Lot of good things are happening here. We want to get a fresh start and we should look for more ways to strengthen US-Sri Lanka bilateral trade,” announced William Weinstein, the new Deputy Chief of Mission of US Embassy in Colombo.
Weinstein was addressing Anura Siriwardene, Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Colombo during his courtesy call on Secretary Siriwardene. Siriwardene was deputising Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce, who was away from Sri Lanka. read more.

21:33:30 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Garments, shoes remain out of people’s reach:

High prices and low purchasing power keep people away from buying readymade garments and shoes.

The shopkeepers are selling even low quality garments for children at starting price of Rs500 whereas the minimum price for adults’ garments starts is about Rs1,300.

Malik Imran, a government servant while talking to ‘The News’, said that rates of garments, shoes, and other items are so high this time that it has become difficult for low paid employees to buy them. He said, “My monthly income is only Rs8,000 and within this limited amount it’s very difficult for me to bear the expenses of my five family members. In this situation how could I buy new garments and shoes for my children and other family members,” he added. read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* KKR buys into Novo, bets on China youth apparel market
* China’s foreign trade boom
* Companies asked to report on social responsibility

PHILIPPINES
* Improving Working Conditions in Philippines EPZs

VIET NAM
* Garment sector attracts investors since WTO membership

CAMBODIA
* ‘Sexually harassed’ workers stick to their guns
* Workers faint at Macao-owned factory in Kg Chhnang
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
1. ‘Harassed’ workers stick to their guns
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2. Garment workers go to court against manager
3. Second fainting in a week at M&V garment factory

MALAYSIA
* MTUC wants old benefits restored

INDONESIA
* Chinese textile companies to relocate to RI

NEPAL
* Surya garment wears deserted look, machinery remains idle

INDIA
* Untangling the knot between Mumbai and its textile mills
* Central bank gives partial go-ahead for textile companies’ debt recast
* H&M tweaks strategy, scouts for India partner
* Cotton shortage hits textile mills
* Biotech’s step back

SRI LANKA
* Rights mar Sri Lankan trade
* GSP + ‘A closed chapter’
* US readying for fresh bilateral boost

PAKISTAN
* Garments, shoes remain out of people’s reach

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And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
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