in the news on-line, 26 & 27 august 2012

10:15:03 local time map of china CHINA

* Sportswear firms report disappointing earnings:

Several major domestic sportswear companies have reported disappointing earnings for the first half of the year, and analysts said Thursday the firms have come to the end of a 10-year phase of rapid development and now need to improve their business model and brand positioning.

Li Ning Co, the country’s leading sportswear retailer, posted an 85 percent slide in first-half net profit late Wednesday.

The company’s profit margin for the second half of the year is expected to be similar to the first six months but it is also possible that the firm may post a loss for 2012, Li Ning’s chief financial officer Chong Yik Kay was quoted by Reuters as saying Thursday.

Four other major sportswear brands – China Dongxiang Group, ANTA Sports, Peak Sports, and 361 Sports – all reported double-digit declines in net profit for the first half, with Dongxiang recording the largest fall of 58 percent. The companies also reported poor sales volumes.
“The profit decline is within expectations,” Wang Qianjin, an analyst at textile industry information website corp.webtextiles.com, told the Global Times. read more.

* Opinions on minimum wage split:

Commission begins review: Report, recommendations due by October

The Minimum Wage Commission failed to reach a consensus on the coming minimum wage rate after meeting up to review the current rate on Thursday.

Representatives from the business sector insisted on freezing the rate at the current level, while the labor sector rejected it and demanded an increase at least to keep up with the inflation rate.
The commission will meet again next month to seek an agreement.

The Minimum Wage Commission began its review of the statutory minimum wage on Thursday, amid calls by the labor sector for a substantial rise, and gasps from small business operators that a big increase would drive them out of business.
The current minimum wage – at HK$28 per hour – was implemented in May, 2011. But labor groups complained that spiralling inflation had gobbled up the increase for the city’s lowest-paid workers. In April, the commission held an eight-week public consultation on the rate.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the commission, in its review, will refer to a basket of indicators, including economic growth and price changes for basic commodities. Cheung stressed that inflation is only one of the indicators. The commission will submit its report to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying by the end of October. read more.

09:15:03 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Agencies discuss 2 options of minimum wages for 2013:

Different opinions have been raised at a meeting held by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs to get feedback on its two options for region-based monthly minimum wages for every employee for 2013.

>> New minimum wages to apply October 1

At yesterday’s meeting, deputy minister Pham Minh Huan heard agencies voice their opinions about the two options proposed in the ministry’s draft decree on minimum wages.
According to the first option, monthly minimum wage would be raised from the current VND1.4-2 million (US$67-96) to VND1.9-2.7 million ($91-130), while under the second, the wage would be raised to VND1.8-2.5 million ($86-120).

Huan told the meeting that after one of the two options is broadly agreed, the ministry will submit the decree to the Government for consideration, and if approved, the decree will take effect on January 1, 2013 for 4 regions of the country that are classified based on the socio-economic development level of each region.
read more.

* Enterprises back proposal to increase minimum wage:

The majority of local companies agree with a proposal to raise the monthly minimum wage for employees under a draft decree by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs despite economic difficulties.

The result emerged following the collection of ideas on the proposal from local companies at a meeting held yesterday by the ministry in HCM City.
In a draft decree, the proposal suggests raising the minimum wage from the current VND1.4 – 2 million (US$67 – $96) to VND1.9 – 2.7 million ($91-$30) or to VND1.8 – 2.5 million ($86 – 120).
However, the businesses also suggested that the decree be applied in March 2013 instead of January as scheduled, due to many economic difficulties, said Nguyen Hong Ha, deputy director of the HCM City branch of Viet Nam’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. read more.

* Garment makers delegation targets US market:

Representatives from 12 garment companies are in Las Vegas on a trip that will last until Monday next week.

They are seeking business opportunities in the US, to which Vietnamese exports are expected to top $20 billion by the end of the year.
Last year, Viet Nam’s exports to the US reached $16.7 billion, accounting for 17.4 per cent of the country’s total export turnover. to read.

09:15:03 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Somyot’s next court date 19th September:

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is to appear in court again on 19 Sept to hear the Constitutional Court’s verdict as to whether or not the lèse majesté law is unconstitutional in response to a petition by him and his lawyers.
He, however, speculates that the decision of the Constitution Court will not be delivered on that day and the verdict in on his specific case will be further postponed until the constitutional verdict is reached.
This means that Somyot faces a further and potentially long period in prison.
to read.

* More news from/about The Librarian of Bangkok Prison:

1.  Release of two lèse majesté convicts today delayed. read more.
2. 112 Inmates treated badly in prison. read more.

* Thais can learn much from Vietnam:

Among other Asean members in the era of the AEC, Vietnam looms as a major competitor for Thailand in numerous areas such as tourism, the manufacture of electronics and textiles, and the export of rice and other food (including seafood). For example, several decades ago, Thailand was a major supplier of Nike products.

Now much of that production has shifted to Vietnam.
An economically dynamic Vietnam, however, should not be viewed as a threat but as an opportunity for Thais to invest and market their fine products and services.
To understand contemporary Vietnam, it is critically important to study its long and special history. Like Thailand, Vietnam’s history goes back several millennia. The first Vietnamese state was the Van Lang kingdom from 3079 BC to 258 BC.
read more.

09:15:03 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Gap supplier in spotlight for sexual harrassment allegations:

Workers striking at Ocean Garment factory say they still fear for their safety after being ordered back to work on Friday, where a manager accused of sexual harassment continues to work.

More than 2,500 workers at the Phnom Penh factory – which supplies retail giant Gap – rallied behind six female employees, who accused their Bangladeshi manager, Faruk Ahmad, of sexual abuse, in an August 11 protest that has stretched on for nearly two weeks.

The women lodged formal criminal complaints to the police and municipal court last week; however, investigations are still pending, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, Pav Sina said.

He said the workers had continued their strike inside the factory’s walls yesterday, and would gather again today in support of five worker representatives, suspended by Ocean despite all workers being ordered back to the factory in a Phnom Penh Municipal Court injunction on Thursday.
According to Sina, Ocean Garment suspended the five worker representatives when the employees returned to work on Friday. read more.

10:15:03 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

*  Indonesia attracts foreign textile investors:

Indonesian Trade Attache in Washington DC Ni Made Ayu Marthini said Indonesia has become a potential investment destination for investors in the textile and apparel sector.

Indonesia should make full use of the good opportunity by intensifying promotional campaigns to boost exports of textiles, Ni Made said.
Ni Made said Indonesia has been named a leading country in “Sourcing at Magic 2012” exhibition, the largest ever textile exhibition in the United States held in Las Vegas, Nevada, this month.

“Perry Ellis, a popular brand in the United States plans to open a branch office in Indonesia to support their sourcing activities,” she said.
She said Indonesia gained from being named a “leading country” representing ASEAN , which is the main focus at the Sourcing at Magic 2012 exhibition.
read more.

* BetterWork Indonesia media updates:

1.  Indonesia attracts foreign textile investors. read more.
2. Two Chinese textile firms shifting to Indonesia. read more.
3. Garment-maker Makalot Posts US$0.181 in First-Seven-Month EPS. read more.
4. Indonesian Government to Give Tax Break to Textile Equipment Manufacturers. read more.
5. Taxable income adjustment next year. read more.
6. Ministers say Foxconn to begin operations in Dec. read more.
7. Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board Says Investment to Rise 30% Amid Favorable Winds. read more.

10:15:03 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Workers’ and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 2)  — Charles Hector:

As of January 2012, the employed labour force in Malaysia was about 12.4m. Out of this, only 798,941 workers (6.44 per cent) are members of trade unions, of which about 53 per cent are private sector workers, 38 per cent public sector workers, and 9 per cent workers of statutory bodies/local authorities, after more than 50 years of independence.

It is obvious that this Malaysian government has not been actively promoting the formation of trade unions. In fact, its more recent policies seem directed towards the weakening of trade unions. Electronic workers, for example, have still not yet been allowed to form a national union. The only concession made after years of struggle was when the BN allowed the formation of four regional unions in the Peninsula in 2010 (The Star, 1 May 2010).

The perception amongst workers is that this government has favoured unions that represent workers in the public sector, statutory bodies and local authorities, who have enjoyed wage increases, cost of living allowances (Cola) and other benefits. The primary motive, however, may not be acknowledgement of the rights and welfare of workers; instead, it is to woo these workers to support the Umno-led BN coalition. That said, the perks and ‘special treatment’ of these workers just prior to elections does not necessarily translate into blind loyalty to the BN cause. For today, the people, including workers in the public sector, have awakened from their slumber, thanks to the availability of more information via the alternative media and exposure to the global media. Hence, they will vote in the upcoming elections as they please! read more.

08:15:03 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Made in Bangladesh – Export Powerhouse Feels Pangs of Labor Strife:

The air thickened with tear gas as police and paramilitary officers jogged into the Ishwardi Export Processing Zone firing rubber bullets and swinging cane poles. Panicked factory workers tried to flee. A seamstress crumpled to the ground, knocked unconscious by a shot in the head.

Dozens of people were bloodied and hospitalized. The officers were cracking down on protests at two garment factories inside this industrial area in western Bangladesh. But they were also protecting two ingredients of a manufacturing formula that has quietly made Bangladesh a leading apparel exporter to the United States and Europe: cheap labor and foreign investment.

Both were at stake on that March morning. Workers earning as little as $50 a month, less than the cost of one of the knit sweaters they stitched for European stores, were furious over a cut in wages. Their anger was directed at the Hong Kong and Chinese bosses of the two factories, turning a labor dispute into something potentially much larger. read more.

* Unrest in garment industry and what to do about it:

After many trials and tribulations over the last thirty years our garment industry is now in a position to withstand the stiff competition offered by its rivals and had made a niche in the world of garment manufacturers. It is now the single largest industry in our private sector.

Garment industry employs thousands of workers men and women and earns precious foreign currency in millions for Bangladesh.
Unfortunately, from time to time our prosperous garment industry is threatened by disasters due to lapses, omissions and irregularities committed by the garment factory owners on the one hand and unrest, chaos and violence created by the workers on the other.

Undoubtedly, ours is a free market economy. But it does not mean that the garment factory owners should only look after their own profit and the workers, their own selfish interest.

In case, for one reason or the other, the garment industry collapses or closes down thousands of people would become jobless and an economic catastrophe would befall our country. In order to run our garment industry smoothly and efficiently and to save it from any ominous threat we strongly feel and recommend that the three following steps, including others, if any, may be taken immediately by the government:

A common service rules and regulations for all the garment factories should be drawn up.
Owners of the garment factories should pay wages and overtime to the workers on or before the seventh day of each new month and also the yearly bonus before the religious festivals. read more.

* Falling prices cut into RMG makers’ profits:

Increasing pressure from international buyers to lower prices, together with escalating production costs, is squeezing the readymade garment manufacturers’ profit margins already dogged by Europe’s debt crisis and sluggish recovery of the US economy.

To lessen the pressure on profit margins readymade garment (RMG) manufacturers are increasing the volume of production, industry insiders said.
“The cost of production has been increasing by 8 percent to 12 percent a year, but the prices, in comparison, did not increase,” said an insider. “And in some cases, it even fell.”

Inconsistent gas and power supply, hike in yarn prices, implementation of minimum wage for workers, higher freight charges, transport costs and prices of capital machinery have been held responsible for the increase in production costs.
In contrast, the export price of garments remained more or less constant in the last three fiscal years. read more.

* Second recession in EU, US to hit Bangladesh’s exports:

Bangladesh’s exports will face further contraction this fiscal year, as euro zone and USA head for the second recession in a span of three years, trade analysts and exporters have feared.
The 17-nation euro zone and the US are the major export markets for local goods and these western markets accounted for 80 per cent of the country’s total export last fiscal (2011-12).
Analysts say the country’s export prospects remained gloomy in the immediate past fiscal, influenced largely by the global slowdown, and it is expected to deteriorate remarkably throughout the current fiscal because of the deepening EU and US crises.
The apprehension came yesterday as World business surveys on Thursday painted a picture of economic malaise stretching from Beijing to Berlin, adding to the concerns of global slowdown.
(…)
Prof Mustafiz further said the latest developments of the global economy will pose a threat to the export-oriented garment (RMG) industry, cutting down demands for local apparels from the western markets. “A sluggish global demand for local garments could lead to closure of a good number of garment industry here,” he added. “Our exports are heavily dependent on Europe and American markets and we cannot avoid the fall in exports because of low demand from the key markets,” M Siddiqur Rahman, vice-president of BGMEA.
He added there are signs of a significant slowdown in Bangladesh’s garment exports, as the exporters are receiving less export orders from buyers. read more.

* Which industries will be our near future ones?:

Bangladesh was predominantly an agricultural country; but for the last two decades it has been moving towards industrialisation.
Country’s economy is not that much dependent on agriculture. Agriculture in Bangladesh has reached its optimum position. There is hardly any scope for its development, because the plain land cannot yield additional production of rice and wheat. We can only use the hill tracts region for horticulture. But destroying or misusing rivers and hills remains a threat for the nature. The flow of the rivers has blocked due to unplanned construction of roads. The rail line constructed during the British period does not block the flow of the rivers. This point must be kept in mind before going for farm horticulture in the hill tracts. Even if we go for farming horticulture in the hilly region now it would not give a big out put. As an option we have to find out the way of right kind of industrialisation.
(…)
A huge number of workers are working in small shoe factories in the city. Besides we have big shoe industries. They have flourished within a very short time. Shoe industry, therefore, can be a thriving sector and an important source of export earning. It can flourish like the garments industry. read more.

* Flat jute price frustrates farmers, traders:

The prices of raw jute witnessed a further decline with the advent of new harvesting season this year. The growers are bringing newly harvested raw jute to the market only to become disappointed.
According to sources, the market turns unprofitable due to lack of sufficient buyers as they become reluctant to buy the natural fibres after incurring losses last year. According to sources, the prices are at least Tk 200 less for a mound of raw jute this year than the previous year.
At the beginning of last season the prices of raw jute were traded between Tk 1,500-1,600 to 2,200-2,300 per mound for different categories whereas this year the prices are hovering between Tk 1,200-1,300 to 1,700-1,800 per mound, said a top jute trader. read more.

* BGMEA eyes bigger market in Brazil:

The export of readymade garment is expected to get a boost to Brazil as the Latin American country is emerging as a prospective market for Bangladeshi apparels, a senior BGMEA official has said.
Acting president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association M Siddiqur Rahman held a meeting with newly appointed ambassador of Bangladesh to Brazil M Shameem Ahsan at the BGMEA office on Saturday.
During the meeting, they discussed issues relating to the RMG market expansion in Brazil.
Siddiqur informed the high commissioner about the barriers to having access to Brazilian market, especially tariff and non-tariff barriers, and sought due role in removing the barriers.
He said the BGMEA had been working hard to expand Bangladesh’s RMG market in the Latin America. read more.

* Global cotton surplus growing to 3.0m tonnes:

The global cotton market surplus will total more than 3 million tonnes by next July from growing output and falling demand in China, the world’s largest textile market, research firm Cotton Outlook said Thursday. Cotton Outlook raised its surplus estimate by almost 1.1 million tonnes, or 55 per cent, to 3.05 million tonnes from its forecast last month.

To put the figure into context, China’s textile mills could last six months without buying any raw material before that excess would disappear. The widely watched forecast will reinforce concerns about sluggish demand due to the sluggish global economy. Volatile and high prices have also forced mills to switch to manmade fibres, contributing to the lower consumption levels.read more.

* Apparel shipments to China rise 100pc:

Apparel exports to less conventional destinations posted a robust growth in the last fiscal despite the global economic crisis that sweeps over most of the developed countries including USA and the EU.
The entrepreneurs, mostly the apparel makers had been looking for new markets due to the longer than earlier anticipated financial crisis and received good responses.
Garment makers said they started foraging markets in the face of shrinking demand for apparel items because of the global recession that intensified in recent days.
The aggressive marketing drive is now paying off, they added.
Although export growth is phenomenal for the new destinations, it is not that high in terms of value compared with the traditional markets, according to statistics compiled by the BGMEA and BKMEA, the two major associations of apparel manufacturers. read more.

07:45:03 local time map of india INDIA

* Indian apparel units copy Toyota model to beat order slump:

Indian apparel manufacturing units have been forced to copy the “lean manufacturing mechanism” pioneered by automobile giant Toyota to beat the European order slump, an industry source said Friday.

The reason is because European apparel importers have reduced the order-to-delivery time from 12 to 15 weeks to 7 to 8 weeks in order to avoid creation of inventory.They are also getting rid of migrant laborers and are using local workers to deliver orders at the shortest possible time.

These initiatives have enabled textiles units to increase efficiency at the shop level from 45 percent to 60 percent and maintain margins in tough times.
“Lean” is a production practice that considers expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end-customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. read more.

* Ex gratia for workers of sick units before Onam:

For 960 workers and retirees from several defunct and sick industrial units in the district, Onam this year brings happy tidings.

A sense of uncertainty had prevailed after the District Labour Office had communicated that it had not received any official communication about the long-pending payment of their ex-gratia amounts before Onam.
Officials at the labour office, the nodal authority to disburse payments, had said that funds for payment had not reached them.

Finally the funds reached them on Saturday.
“We will start disbursing money to all workers from Monday, so that it will reach them in time for Onam,” District Labour Officer C. Sugathan told The Hindu on Sunday.

Of the 960 belonging to nine industrial units, 813 are labourers, 32 are employees of factories and 115 are persons who have retired without employment benefits, as per the records available with the Labour Department.
Of these, 576 are from Kunnathara Textiles and 108 workers from the Commonwealth Trust Textile Factory (Comtrust). Of the 300 workers who had worked with the Comtrust factory when it ceased operations in 2009, all others, except the 108, had opted for the Voluntary Separation Scheme offered by the company and accepted compensation. read more.

* ‘Create demand for textile products’:

Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and presently chairman of Technology, Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) under Union Government, has called upon the textile entrepreneurs to create a demand for their products instead of being content with catering to the demands in the market.

“Creation of demand is important for sustaining the industrial prowess and widening the customer base. For this, one should embrace technological innovations,” he said while delivering special address at a workshop on ‘Technology gap analysis study of readymade garment industry in Tirupur cluster’ organised by PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, here on Friday evening. read more.

* Reebok’s franchisees cry foul over notice to shut shop:

Sportswear major Reebok India’s franchisees from Delhi have accused the company of asking them to shut their shops by August 31 if they do not agree to the new business model.

The franchisees have also alleged that the company, which had filed complaint against two former top executives for an alleged Rs 870 crore fraud, has refused to settle dues in violation of their franchise agreement. read more.

* Centre announces Rs. 250 crore package for Uttarakhand:

The Centre today announced a Rs. 250 crore package for Uttarakhand which includes a textile park, two spice parks and infrastructure facilities for boosting horticulture sector.

The decision was taken after a meeting between Union industries and textile minister Anand Sharma and Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna. Industrialists from the state were also present.
Sharma told reporters that the package was estimated to cost Rs. 250 crore.
He said, among others, approval has been given for setting up a textile park in Udhamsingh Nagar district with 40 per cent funding from the Centre. read more.

* Magical weaves from Assam:

Assam holds its silk in as much sentiment and value as its tea and the one-horned rhinoceros.

The muga silk skirt-like mekhela and riha (a garment) add magnificence to the Bihu dance. Sattriya dance, one of the Indian classical dance forms that evolved out of the Xatras or Vaishnavaite monasteries of Assam, is performed wearing paat silk.

And every Assamese agrees that a girl looks best on her wedding day, dressed in a white or off-white paat silk mekhela chadar (two-piece attire worn like a saree) with motifs in guna (zari or golden thread).

Tultul Bora of Ritu’s Boutique in Guwahati tells me that acid is not used in the production of Assam silk. “This makes the silk last longer,” she says. “Also, our production processes include organic methods like vegetable dyeing.” read more.

* Child labour age limit raised to 18 years:

Making the law on child labour more stringent, the state government has issued a notification extending the age bar on child labour from 14 years to 18 years. Now, if anybody below 18 years is employed, it will be considered as child labour.

After Delhi, Rajasthan is the second state which has put the age limit at 18 years, said a member of Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

A fine of Rs 20,000 will be imposed on the employer of such children. The state government will also contribute Rs 5,000 for each child in the Child Labour Welfare Fund, which would be spent on his or her rehabilitation.

Chief secretary CK Mathew on Tuesday issued the six-page notification which also acknowledged that a large number of children are working in occupations such as gem polishing, Aari Tari, carpet manufacturing, brick kilns, domestic work, begging, bidi industry, mines, agriculture, tea kiosks and dhabas. Also, a large number of them were being trafficked out of the state for labour at Bt Cotton fields where they work as bonded labourers for 10 to 16 hours a day. read more.

* Probe sought into employment of kids on cotton farms:

An organization working for child rights in Gujarat Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch (DHRM) has approached National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for a detailed enquiry into the issue of death of a child and injuring of eight others in a road accident on August 20 while they were being transported to cotton farms to work as labourers.

General secretary of DHRM Rajesh Solanki has written to NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha asking her to seek an action taken report from the district authorities in Patan.

Nine-year-old Sohan Kher from Jadol village in Udaipur district was killed and eight others were injured when the jeep carrying them fell from a bridge. Solanki has stated that the injured victims were forced to vacate the hospital and were sent back to their native places overnight. He has accused the authorities of trying to hush up the matter that once again raises the issue of employment of child labour in cotton fields. read more.

* Step up efforts to stop child trafficking: State to government departments:

After raising the age limit of child labour from 14 to 18 years, the state government has issued separate directions to various government departments to step up efforts to stop child trafficking.

Child trafficking is a serious issue in the state as it is not only a source of child labour (as children cross border to enter Gujarat to work), but it is also a destination for child labour as a large number of children from West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Jharkhand come to Rajasthan for work. read more.

* Load shedding: crisis looms large over Tirupur knitwear cluster:

With load shedding back again to spells that lasts almost 10 hours a day, the apparel manufacturers in Tirupur knitwear cluster are finding it extremely difficult to meet the production targets by keeping the profit margins intact.

“Operating the units with diesel generators during the load shedding hours are not at all a viable alternative as it could escalate costs by many times which, in turn, will eat into the already wafer-thin margins in which the predominant small and medium scale textile enterprises operate,” G. R. Senthilvel, secretary of Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association (TEAMA), told The Hindu .

Since the units that cater to the domestic market have heavy orders for the Deepavali season, the prolonged hours of load shedding have upset the production schedules. read more.

07:45:03 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Ignorance and negligence prevent South Asians from realising gains from trade- From improved trade ties with South Asia, study shows:

While the country struggles to recover from a balance of payments crisis, a recent study shows that Sri Lanka can cut its import bill by 31 percent, at the least, and make considerable welfare gains if intraregional trade improved.

A recent study ‘Consumers and Economic Cooperation: Cost of Economic Non-cooperation to Consumers in South Asia’ authored by Bipul Chatterjee, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International and Joseph George, Research Associate, CUTS International, shows that South Asian consumers are expected to gain more than US$ 2 billion annually as a result of enhancement of intra-regional trade.
(…)
However, the study points out that Sri Lanka would not gain by imports from Bangladesh, as its own export basket constitutes articles of apparel and is price competitive and capable of capturing part of the South Asian textile market with Bangladesh. Though the welfare gains accruing to Sri Lanka, by way of imports from Nepal, are only US$1.88mn, the island nation is set to save close to 60 percent of imports from the rest of the world (RoW) by choosing alternatives from Nepal on certain items.
(…)
“Sri Lanka’s prospects are spread between textile items and cash crops, including rubber, tea and spices,” the study showed. read more.

* Brandix extends Gap Inc programme for garment workers:

The Brandix Group said last week that it planned to extend the Gap Inc. Personal and Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) programme for female garment workers in the Group’s facilities in Sri Lanka.
GAP is a well-known clothing retailer from the US. The Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. programme is a life and work skills education programme designed to positively impact female garment workers in factories that make Gap Inc. product. The programme provides workers with foundational skills, technical training and suport to help them advance in the workplace and in their personal lives, the company statement said.

Female garment workers participating in the programme take part in eight modules of life skills education including communication skills, problem-solving, time and stress management, health and nutrition, financial literacy and gender equality. Programme participants also receive enhanced technical skills training. Research shows that Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. graduates are more productive, have lower rates of absenteeism and are promoted faster than factory workers who do not participate in the program. read more.

* Great synergies for Lankan ceramic corporates in India for global export:

He was responding to a question as to whether there lay opportunities for such opportunities in Sri Lanka where Indian investors come here in the light of External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris recent calling for increase of intra- regional trade within SAARC.

He also said that anti-dumping legislation for the ceramic industry has been in the pipe line for many years but unfortunately no government has taken serious consideration in enacting it.
Here, he is in conversation with the Island Financial Review.

* Unemployed Sri Lankan factory worker writes to EU Ambassador on GSP Plus:

You don’t know me. Even I did not know you till few weeks ago. I am one like the hundreds ofgirls you see when you drive in and out of the airport. You see some of us walking to the shifts or going home after work in the garment factories near the airport. You may know us as the “Juki Girls”.
Or you may not have seen us as you drive very fast. So, I could even remain nameless. Actually, I thought I was luckier than most other Juki Girls. When I left school and was looking for work, I wanted to come and work in one of those factories near the airport, as few girls from the village had done earlier. But Amma was dead against it. She said “you go there over my dead body”.

In Colombo many girls live together in one small room, she said. “You will spend all the money on room, food, clothes and perfumes, like all those Juki girls there. Only thing they are good at is doing bad things. You will not even save any money”, she said. Secondly I had never been to Colombo before. So I did not know what it was like. So I had to stay back in my village. But I was lucky. The garment factory close to our village started recruiting more workers. The manager sir said Europe gave us a concession called GSP Plus, after 2004 tsunami. Because of that the factory had lots of orders from Europe. That is why they could give us jobs.The factory even provided us with transport from home and free breakfast. I could save money and even help my family. In our village we were proud to be “Juki Girls”. We didn’t have a bad image like our uprooted sisters elsewhere.Anyway, I know you are a busy man and don’t have time to read this boring stuff. So let me tell you why I decided to write to you.

Recently, I lost my job. Today, I am an unemployed “Juki Girl”. Our factory closed down whenthe company found it was difficult to export to Europe from Sri Lanka,after they lost GSP Plus. The company has nowstarted to ship from their factory in Jordan, because they have GSP Plus. read more.

07:15:03 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Pakistan looses share in world textile markets:

Pakistan’s share of textile garments in global markets has phenomenally gone down over the past few years, as major European store chains are now more focused on placing orders from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, exporters said on Thursday, according to Business Recorder of Pakistan, a web portal. “The primary reason behind the shift of global buyers from Pakistan to other countries is violence, particularly targeted killings in Karachi,” they said.
They feared that Pakistan might lose its existing share of textile products in the international market if the government did not steer its priorities towards solving key issues of governance, including restoration of peace and availability of uninterrupted energy to industries.
Pakistan has no share of fashion and sports wear textile in world markets, despite public appeal for such products in Europe and the US, Chief Co-ordinator of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) Ijaz Khokhar told Business Recorder. read more.

* Trading remains firm at cotton market:

Lint trading remained firm with fine lint in focus amid firm spot rate, traders at Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) said on Saturday.

During the past week mills purchased lint of all grades while sellers with fine grades offered their produce on slightly higher prices around Rs 6,150 per maund, traders said.
During past week KCA spot rate committee increased the spot rate by Rs 50 per maund to stay at Rs 5,850 per maund, but on Saturday it kept it unchanged, floor brokers added.
Ginning units in Punjab and Sindh stations produced more than 999,000 bales as compared to 960,000 bales of all grades in last corresponding week while spinners in Punjab and Sindh stations bought fine lint at around Rs 6,075 per maund to Rs 6,100 per maund, floor brokers said. read more.

* Export of cotton yarn to China soar:

The cotton yarn export to China registered a record high at 94 per cent increase in terms of volume which certain to hit export of value added textiles from Pakistan. Sources in textile circles expressed concern that if the power crisis allowed to persist the export of value added textiles including bed wear, knitwear, fashion apparel, towel etc are likely to badly hit during current financial 2013.
According to latest numbers by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), textile exports for the month of July came in at US$1.09billionn, down 2.7% YoY and a muted sequential growth of 0.8% MoM.

However cotton yarn export revenue has surged 48% YoY to US$172million, largely driven by 94% increase in volumes while average unit prices have dropped 24% YoY tracking 37% decline in cotton prices in Jul). We suspect that record high yarn exports to China, account for the volume spike. The value chain, product categories such as knitwear, bed wear and garments remain laggards with export revenue declining by 5-15% YoY, despite average unit prices remaining downwards. Despite relief has been granted in the form of 150bps Discount Rate Cut by the State Bank of Pakistan however persistent energy outages and reliance on expensive means of power generation will continue to pose a downside risk for textile exporters to meet their targets, industry circles said.  read more.

* Zardari to be chief guest at APTMA dinner:

President Asif Ali Zardari will be the chief guest at the annual dinner of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) at the presidency on August 27, according to a statement issued by the trade body on Thursday.

Federal ministers, secretaries and senior officials from diplomatic circles will also attend the dinner, it said.
Textile industry stalwarts and senior members will reach Islamabad from across the country to attend the dinner under the leadership of Mohsin Aziz, chairman of APTMA, and Gohar Ejaz, group leader of the association.
Aziz said that the textile mill-owners are upbeat on fresh investment to avail the pro-industry measures of the government, according to the statement. read more.

* Inefficiency: Textile industry admits it has a productivity problem:

The textile lobby loves complaining about the power crisis and high interest rates, but executives and shareholders of major textile firms agree that the sector can do far more on its own to increase its productivity and global competitiveness.

Indeed some firms are already investing in efficiency audits, such as Afroze Textile Industries, a Karachi-based exporter of towels and linens.
“It is difficult for anyone to find their own shortcomings and then to rectify them,” said Feroz Alam Lari, the company’s CEO. “So we give much importance to the services of experts who could tell us how we can improve our efficiency levels.”

The textile lobby, however, remained firm in its denial that the industry had a competitiveness problem, claiming that every calamity befalling the textile industry was the fault of the government and that the firms themselves were entirely blameless. read more.

* While small players get squeezed, textile’s big guns are doing just fine:

The energy crisis has hit Pakistan’s textile industry badly, but not all textile companies are hurt: the largest players are doing just fine, relying on a combination of the advantages of their economies of scale but also government-sanctioned privileges not available to smaller industrial players.

At least part of the reason why the bigger companies are doing better than the smaller ones appears to be the natural advantages that come with being a larger player, such as having a vertically integrated business model.

Kamal Yousaf, CEO of the Kamal Group of Industries, a textile conglomerate based in Faisalabad, says that part of his group’s advantage over smaller rivals in their ability to harness synergies within the group. The weaving, processing and dyeing, garment manufacturing, and trading arms all work as a unit, helping the group weather price hikes in raw material or other issues. read more.

* Analysis: The textile sector is not indispensible for the economy:

Pakistan’s textile industry is not a child anymore. It should stop acting like one.

There is no question that the textile industry is Pakistan’s single largest industry. But the textile lobby has a penchant for exaggerating just how big it is. According to the 2012 Economic Survey of Pakistan, issued by the finance ministry, the textile industry itself constituted about 4% of the total size of the economy. If one were to charitably add the related cotton farming sector, that number goes up to only 5.6% of gross domestic product.

And while the government does not break down tax revenues by sector, estimates based on companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (an admittedly imperfect measure) suggest that the share of taxes paid by the sector amount to less than 5% of the total revenues collected by the government.

There is no question that the textile industry is important, but it is not indispensible.
read more.

* Scathing indictment: For over a decade, textile value addition has remained at a standstill:

The share of value-added products in Pakistan’s textile exports has remained almost the same over the last 10 years, with the combined overseas sales of woven and knitted garments contributing 29.2% in the total textile exports of $12.3 billion in fiscal year 2012, virtually unchanged from the 29% it was in 2002.

While Pakistan’s exports in the textile sector grew at an annual rate of 7.6% between 2002 and 2012, the share of value-added textiles – i.e. knitted and woven garments – also rose at a similar rate of 7.7% per annum over the same period.

“The share of value-added goods in total textile exports should’ve been much bigger. Value-addition fetches more foreign exchange, adds new jobs at home, and the exporter gets 10 times higher margins on goods sold,” said Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association Zonal Chairman Atiq A Kochra.

On the contrary, the share of raw cotton in total textile exports has risen phenomenally in the past decade. Pakistan exported cotton of $24.7 million in 2002. Ten years on, the worth of cotton Pakistan sold overseas had risen to $462 million, a tremendous rise of 34% per year between 2002 and 2012. read more.

* Discrimination allegations: Why Punjab’s textile industry is worse off than Sindh’s:

Is Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s allegation true that his province’s industry is being discriminated against when it comes to electricity and gas? The short answer is yes, though it deserves several caveats.

At first glance, the numbers are staggering. Punjab’s industry faces 12-hour power cuts and gets gas for their captive power plants for five days a week during the summer and only two days a week during the winter. Most industry experts estimate that at least 50% of the province’s textile manufacturing capacity is currently idle. No new textile machinery has been installed anywhere in Punjab in over two years.

The All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association, the industry’s biggest lobby, estimates that 20% of all textile companies that were operating in Punjab four years ago are now gone. The Pakistan Textile Exporters’ Association, another lobbying group, estimates that 400,000 workers in Punjab have been unemployed as a result of power outages forcing mills to shut down or cut their workforce. read more.

* Buying behaviour: As consumers demand more readymade clothes, exporters switch to local market:

 Pakistani consumers increasingly prefer to buy readymade garments, shifting their consumption away from tailored clothing, a phenomenon that has attracted many textile companies – including exporters – into the business of supplying clothes for the country’s middle class.

Data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics suggests that demand for readymade clothes has risen 81% in the last decade, in terms of quantity, despite high increases in the prices of clothes. The rise in demand may be attributed to the shift in consumer behaviour: urban Pakistanis have higher disposable income and have increasingly developed a ‘mall culture’, preferring to browse for clothing at retail outlets and buying in one go rather than going for several fittings to a tailor.
read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* Sportswear firms report disappointing earnings
* Opinions on minimum wage split

VIET NAM
* Agencies discuss 2 options of minimum wages for 2013
* Enterprises back proposal to increase minimum wage
* Garment makers delegation targets US market

THAILAND
* Somyot’s next court date 19th September
* More news from/about The Librarian of Bangkok Prison
* Thais can learn much from Vietnam

CAMBODIA
* Gap supplier in spotlight for sexual harrassment allegations

INDONESIA
* Indonesia attracts foreign textile investors
* BetterWork Indonesia media updates

MALAYSIA
* Workers’ and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 2)

BANGLA DESH
* Made in Bangladesh – Export Powerhouse Feels Pangs of Labor Strife
* Unrest in garment industry and what to do about it
* Falling prices cut into RMG makers’ profits
* Second recession in EU, US to hit Bangladesh’s exports
* Which industries will be our near future ones?
* Flat jute price frustrates farmers, traders
* BGMEA eyes bigger market in Brazil
* Global cotton surplus growing to 3.0m tonnes
* Apparel shipments to China rise 100pc

INDIA
* Indian apparel units copy Toyota model to beat order slump
* Ex gratia for workers of sick units before Onam
* ‘Create demand for textile products’
* Reebok’s franchisees cry foul over notice to shut shop
* Centre announces Rs. 250 crore package for Uttarakhand
* Magical weaves from Assam
* Child labour age limit raised to 18 years
* Probe sought into employment of kids on cotton farms
* Step up efforts to stop child trafficking: State to government departments
* Load shedding: crisis looms large over Tirupur knitwear cluster

SRI LANKA
* Ignorance and negligence prevent South Asians from realising gains from trade- From improved trade ties with South Asia, study shows
* Brandix extends Gap Inc programme for garment workers
* Great synergies for Lankan ceramic corporates in India for global export
* Unemployed Sri Lankan factory worker writes to EU Ambassador on GSP Plus

PAKISTAN
* Pakistan looses share in world textile markets
* Trading remains firm at cotton market
* Export of cotton yarn to China soar
* Zardari to be chief guest at APTMA dinner
* Inefficiency: Textile industry admits it has a productivity problem
* While small players get squeezed, textile’s big guns are doing just fine
* Analysis: The textile sector is not indispensible for the economy
* Scathing indictment: For over a decade, textile value addition has remained at a standstill
* Discrimination allegations: Why Punjab’s textile industry is worse off than Sindh’s
* Buying behaviour: As consumers demand more readymade clothes, exporters switch to local market

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
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I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
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
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
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I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
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