21:13:30 local time CHINA
* ASEAN nations are driving China’s textile exports:
ASEAN countries have taken over the European Union and are now a major driving force for China’s textile and apparel exports, said the China National Textile and Apparel Council.
The country’s textile and apparel exports to ASEAN countries saw an annual increase of 23.4 percent from 2005 to 2011, the council’s data showed.
Textile and apparel exports to ASEAN countries hit $23.55 billion in the first 11 months of 2012, a year-on-year increase of 33.5 percent.
The United States, Japan, the European Union, Asean and Hong Kong are the top five destinations for China’s textile and apparel industry. However, exports to the EU are declining due to the eurozone debt crisis. read more.
* Apparel retailers expanding in Chinese lower-tier cities:
20:13:30 local time VIET NAM
* Garment sector sets ambitious goal:
The garment industry has targeted an export value of US$18-19 billion this year, an increase of 12 per cent over last year, a representative of the leading State-owned clothing manufacturer Vinatex announced.
To reach the target, the industry would focus on increasing the efficiency of its assets, reviewing debt and inventory levels, making more efficient use of investment capital, said Vinatex deputy director Le Tien Truong.
It also would increase market forecasting capacity, as well as strengthen traditional export markets and tap new markets, according to a teleconference yesterday to discuss the industry’s production plans for 2013.
The main export markets for Vietnamese garment and textiles continued to be the US, Japan and the EU, all of which were facing ongoing economic difficulties.
Truong said the textile industry and Vinatex in particular maintained stable growth last year despite many difficulties. Last year was the fourth consecutive year in which the garment industry continued to hold the number one position among the nation’s exports.
The industry’s exports last year reached US$17.2 billion, up 8 per cent over the previous year, and accounted for around 16 per cent of the nation’s total export value.
Vinatex’s export value alone was $2.6 billion, a year-on-year increase of 16 per cent, Truong said. To achieve these results, Vinatex had focused on improving labour productivity and production efficiency as well as focusing on producing high-value products. to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 13/1.
* Vinatex earns huge revenues:
Despite a decline in export of textile-garment products to big markets last year and difficulties in the domestic market, Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) still obtained VND40.786 trillion in revenues, up 16% year-on-year.
At a press meeting held on Tuesday, Le Tien Truong, deputy general director of Vinatex, said that the group’s export turnover earned last year increased strongly to an estimated US$2.6 billion, up 16% from last year and equivalent to last year’s target. However, this is the gross amount which includes the costs of materials imported to process apparel products for foreign partners.
Besides, Vinatex’s estimated domestic revenues reached VND19.7 trillion, which increased by 8% from the previous year and is the lowest rise of the group since 2007.
According to Truong, many member companies obtaining growth of over 12%, including Phong Phu, Hoa Tho, Nha Be Garment, Duc Giang Garment, Nam Dinh Textile and Hung Yen Garment. Meanwhile, other companies such as Tan Chau Garment, Binh Minh Garment, Nam Dinh Garment and Dong Phuong Textile achieved growth of over 16%. read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 13/1. (26th item)
20:13:30 local time THAILAND
* Free Somyot – Amnesty International lodges urgent appeal for Somyot:
Amnesty International URGENT ACTION editor at risk of unjust sentence IN THAILAND Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a labour activist and editor of the Voice of Taksin, is a prisoner of conscience.
He has been detained since April 2011, having been charged in relation to publishing articles deemed critical of Thailand’s monarchy. Authorities have repeatedly turned down his requests for bail.
In May 2012, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk’s trial ended; he is still awaiting the verdict. The court has rescheduled the date for announcing the verdict three times, most recently from 19 December to 23 January 2013.
He was arrested on 30 April 2011, shortly after launching a campaign to gather support for a parliamentary review of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. He was charged and tried under Article 112 which prohibits any word or act which “defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent”.
The charge carries a sentence of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for each offence.
* Study weighs costs and benefits of wage increase:
A new study by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) examines the pros and cons of the increase of the minimum wage to Bt300 minimum per day.
The study, which also looks at the effects of the recently introduced Bt15,000 monthly minimum salary for holders of bachelor’s degrees, was conducted by TDRI scholar Assistant Professor Yongyuth Chaelomwongse and his team with the support of the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT).
The government’s increase of the daily minimum wage by as much as 80 per cent in some parts of the country to Bt300 in two phases (starting April 1, 2012, and January 1, 2013) is a major policy with huge impact on the Thai labour market, the study said.
Looking at the positive aspects, the study found that uniform higher wages nationwide should contribute to generally better living standards for workers, while boosting domestic demand and tax revenue for the state.
Moreover, 3.2 million workers, or 30 per cent of employees in the private sector, should benefit from the minimum-wage increase. The higher wage should narrow the income gap and benefit low-paid workers, who tend to have little bargaining power, according to the TDRI. read more.
* TDRI analysis highlights impact of new minimum wage:
Government measures to improve labour skills to match market demand are needed to reduce the widespread impact of the daily minimum wage hike in both the short and the long term, says the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).
Yongyuth Chalamwong, a senior researcher, said the 300-baht daily minimum wage that took effect nationwide on Jan 1 represents the biggest increase since the onset of the concept – about 40%.
“The timing of the increase in the wage is probably appropriate, as the labour market for low-income workers is tight,” he said.
“The business sector, especially SMEs, inevitably must improve efficiency and labour productivity with measures such as lay-offs, freezing headcounts and increasing technological efficiency. The government and relevant agencies should coordinate to plan and improve labour skills to match market demand.” read more.
* Labour Ministry investigates businesses shut after pay hike:
The Labour Ministry is investigating recent business closures to determine whether they were linked to the nationwide minimum wage hike.
Narumol Tarndamrong, an adviser to Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap, confirmed yesterday several business operators had closed their doors and laid off workers since the 300-baht daily minimum wage increase took effect on Jan 1.
“We will find out the true cause of their closures. They might have been affected [by the wage hike] or maybe they were having other unrelated problems,” she said.
* Shoe exports unaffected by wages:
Despite adverse effects from the nationwide hike in the daily minimum wage, exports of shoes and leather products are expected to grow by 7% this year, higher than in many recent years, says the Thai Footwear Association (TFA).
President Chanin Jitkomut said the healthy growth is thanks to government stimulus measures, particularly the revival of the Bangkok Fashion City project originally initiated by the Thaksin Shinawatra administration.
Last year, the value of exports totalled 20 billion baht. read more.
20:13:30 local time CAMBODIA
* Unpaid wages demanded:
Bosses of an underwear factory that supplies retail giants Walmart and H&M have been accused of closing up shop and fleeing while still owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and benefits.
Workers at the Kingsland garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district have spent the past 10 days protesting outside the factory and setting up camp at night – to catch their bosses if they return to strip the factory of machinery.
Representatives claimed yesterday workers would be owed a combined $800,000 if the factory, which has not opened since December 29, had ceased operations.
The factory has been bereft of an independent union since representatives from what is now the Cambodia Confederation of Apparel Workers Democratic Unions (C.CAWDU) were fired or beaten in incidents in 2007 and 2008, they added.
21:13:30 local time INDONESIA
* Finding Solutions for Textile Industry:
The textile industry and related products had experienced adversity in 1-2 years after the 1997 crisis. The declining investment and purchasing power knocked down the industry at that time.
However, the textile industry performance continued to recover in the last decade and even showed a stable performance since 2010. Textile and textile products (TPT) exports reached US$11.2 billion in that year and rose to US$13.3 billion in 2011.
In 2012, the declining exports seemed to end the increasing trend. The total sale value of TPT fell by 2% to US$20.2 billion last year from US$20.6 billion in 2011, following the decline in exports value from US$13.2 billion to US$12.6 billion due to global economic crisis. read more.
* 908 Companies Ask Delay Minimum Wage Policy:
The government will provide convenience for the 908 companies which requesting suspension on the provincial minimum wage increase in 2013. The policy is to avoid layoff.
Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Muhaimin Iskandar said the business climate in Indonesia must be maintained in order to be in favorable condition in which to prevent layoff.
The number of companies which are requesting suspension in the provincial minimum wage (UMP) to the Government is lower than data released by the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo). The association recorded 1,312 intensive firms which are in a near of bankruptcy as they are not able to adjust their employees salary. read more.
* Indonesian Retailers May Take Sales Hit on Electricity, Wage Costs:
Retailers operating in Indonesia may see slightly slower sales growth this year as prices rise due to higher costs for manufacturers, brought on by minimum wage increases and larger electricity bills.
“If they can book 10 percent growth in retail turnover, it would be good enough,” said Satria Hamid Ahmadi, a deputy chairman at the Indonesian Retail Merchants Association (Aprindo). read more.
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Update:
1. Finding Solutions For Textile Industry. Read the full article here.
2. 908 Companies Ask Delay Minimum Wage Policy. Read the full article here.
3. Regional minimum wages increase by 18.32 pct in 2013.
Read the full article here.
4. 40 Industries in Tangerang Want Minimum Wage Raise Suspension.
Read the full article here.
5. RI`s GDP to increase to 6.5 pct in 2013: economist. Read the full article here.
6. Textile producers expect recovery this year. Read the full article here.
7. Surakarta to boost equality for the disabled. Read the full article here.
19:13:30 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* 40 labour assocs demand arrest, punishment of owner:
Leaders of 40 associations of garment workers on Saturday demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment of Tazreen Fashions Ltd owner Delwar Hossain on charge of killing more than 100 workers of his factory in fire on November 24 last.
The labour leaders made the demand while exchanging views with Gana Forum and Socialist Party of Bangladesh leaders at two separate programmes.
Tazreen Fashions owner cannot avoid the responsibility of the workers’ death as he failed to ensure their safety, they said.
The leaders of garment workers also urged the government to pass the labour law amendment bill in the next session of parliament to make the Labour Law 2006 more democratic and worker-friendly by shedding its undemocratic sections. read more.
* 3 more Tazreen staffers held:
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Saturday night arrested three more staffers of Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia in connection with the last November fire that left 112 workers killed in the factory.
The detainees are Security in-charge Anisur Rahman, storekeeper Al Amin and security guard Mohammad Rana Islam.
“The three persons were arrested on suspicion of their involvement in the devastating fire as they had been deployed on the ground floor of the factory from where the fire originated,” said Monsur Ali Mondol, senior assistant superintendent of police at CID, who is the investigation officer of the case.
The CID official said, “They were arrested from their hides and they were produced before court with a seven-day remand for interrogation.”
Earlier, Detective Branch of police arrested administrative officer Dulal Uddin, store in-charge Hamidul Islam Lavlu, and security supervisor Al Amin, 27. Two days after the fire, Ashulia police filed a case in connection with the fire.
They had been arrested suspecting their involvement as they had locked all the collapsible gates when the fire broke out. Had they acted responsibly, many victims could have escaped to safety, the report added.
read more. & read more.& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Europe now takes US cue:
The European Parliament is set to hold a discussion on Wednesday on the working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories.
The discussion on Bangladesh is part of a three-day plenary session starting today.
Parliamentarians will also talk about health and safety at work, occupational medicine, pay structure, labour rights, trade union and corporate social responsibility in Bangladesh, according to the European Parliament website and the commerce ministry in Dhaka.
The move comes in the wake of the Tazreen fire that killed at least 112 workers, the commerce ministry said in a document, citing a letter from the European Union (EU) sent through the Bangladesh embassy in Brussels.
“We have received a letter from the EU a few days ago and we have already replied to it,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told The Daily Star by phone.
* Knitwear workers press demands in N’ganj:
Workers of a sweater factory staged a rally in the Narayanganj city on Saturday pressing for their seven-point demand, including withdrawal of ‘illegal’ termination of workers.
Organising the programme in front of the office of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association on BB Road, the workers of Fuji sweater factory threatened to go on tougher protest if the authorities continued to ignore their demands.
The six other demands they raised include giving the workers weekly holiday and national holidays, refraining from compelling workers to work overtime, strictly maintaining daily work period of eight hours, removing corruption and irregularities at the mid-level management, giving maternity leave and ensuring minimum wage at Tk 5100 as basic salary. to read.
* Freight forwarders, apparel makers in a fresh row:
The freight forwarders and the apparel makers are in a fresh row over delivering of readymade garment (RMG) items to the buyers abroad.
Forwarders, in some cases, send goods bypassing the banking channel which results in non-payments of bills on account of consignments to the apparel makers by foreign buyers.
Freight forwarders are actually carriers of apparel products and they deliver goods through their counterparts to the foreign buyers. The buyers assign forwarders to handle the export. read more. & read more.
* Businesses not in favour of FDI in basic RMG sector:
The country’s readymade garment manufacturers are not in favour of foreign direct investment by China in basic RMG sector; rather they want investment in high-end products.
The industry people say they find no reason to encourage foreign direct investment in basic garment items as the local players are strong enough in the sector.
A good number of China entrepreneurs have recently expressed their interest to invest in readymade garment sector in Bangladesh.
But the local entrepreneurs said they expected China investment in high-end products, and spinning and woven textile where the country has lack of enough expertise and technology. read more.
* US GSP cancellation threat: Blow to economy:
Country’s leading chamber leaders voiced concern over the threat from the USA of canceling the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facilities provided against exports of some items from Bangladesh to US.
Although the country’s largest export sector Ready Made Garments (RMG) does not enjoy the facility, cancellation of a given facility would create a negative impact on the image and confidence of the buyers towards products from Bangladesh, they pointed out.
The matter may also keep a negative impact on the overall relations with the world’s most powerful nation.
The government should also think about other issues like social relations, diplomatic ties and future of Bangladeshis living in USA while dealing with the matter, the leaders pointed out. Around half a million Bangladeshis are living in USA.
These Bangladeshis are also an important source of remittance earning of the country. read more. & read more.
* Minister sees links between TICFA delay and GSP shock:
Commerce Minister GM Quader yesterday said Bangladesh’s delay in signing the TICFA might be related to the US bid to scrap the generalised system of preferences (GSP).
“The recent US move on the GSP might have indirectly been linked to the TICFA [Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement],” said Quader.
The minister also suggested Bangladesh should immediately ink the agreement.
The commerce minister added: “The TICFA has now become a necessity and the government is seriously considering it.” read more.
* Govt readying reply to USTR notice by Jan 31:
Withdrawal of US GSP facility
The government is taking all necessary preparations before replying to a notice of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) by January 31 as it has moved to withdraw the GSP (generalised system of preferences) facility for Bangladeshi products in the US market, a senior govt official said.
“A lot of work has been done over the last four years regarding labour rights in Bangladesh. We have reviewed what will be included in the reply to the USTR notice,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told a press briefing Sunday after a meeting with the stakeholders. read more.
* ‘Signing of TICFA urgent for retention of GSP’:
Commerce minister GM Quader Sunday said signing of TICFA with the United States (US) has become urgent for Bangladesh in view of its continuous threat to withdraw the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facility on the ground of violation of labour rights in the garment sector.
“We wanted to follow a go-slow policy in signing the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA). But they say we are delaying it as we do not want to ensure labour rights. That’s why it has become urgent for us to sign it quickly,” said GM Quader.
* Reopening of Bangladesh jute mills to create 4000 jobs:
18:43:30 local time SRI LANKA
* MAS Fabric Park gets apparel facility:
MAS Fabric Park at Thulhiriya will get a apparel and footwear manufacturing facility and it was expected to be operational before the end of 2013. This is a joint venture project between MAS Group and NIKE.
Around 200 people will be employed at the initial operational stage of the factory. MAS Fabric Park spreads across 165 hectares and seven business entities are currently housed at the MAS Fabric Park and MAS Group and NIKE joint venture project will be the latest business entity to be housed at the park.
Similarly, Sri Lanka’s first privately-operated industrial zone, MAS Fabric Park received ISO 14001 certification awarded for environmental management systems, making it a trailblazer for industrial zones in the country. read more.
18:13:30 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Victims of Baldia factory fire: Parents ask court to expedite DNA tests for unidentified bodies:
The parents of two workers, who were killed in the blaze that broke out at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012, filed a case at the Sindh High Court on Saturday against the authorities for failing to determine the identity of their children through DNA tests.
Hussain Ahmed and Dilawar Hussain are among those parents whose sons’ remains are yet to be identified.
At least 259 workers – according to official statistics – were killed in one of the biggest industrial disasters in the country. Rescue workers had retrieved 33 unidentified bodies, charred beyond recognition, from the destroyed building out of which only seven have been identified through DNA tests. read more.
* Poor man’s justice:
Two hundred and fifty-nine people died in the Baldia garment factory fire tragedy in Karachi on Sept 11, 2012.
Before this, the highest number of people killed in a factory fire was 146 in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist garment factory in New York and 187 in the 1993 doll factory fire in Thailand. The factory fire death record remains firmly in Pakistan’s hands.
The prosecution, under the Sindh government, has accused the owners/management of M/s Ali Enterprises running the Baldia factory of deliberate gross criminal negligence, charging them with murder under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Contrary to Pakistani practice, this was a surprisingly correct legal approach in this case.
But then, in a speech to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Dec 29, the prime minister is reported to have said: “Authorities should reinvestigate the case and provide justice to the employers of Ali Enterprises if a wrong case has been registered against the factory owners under Section 302 [murder]”. And the KCCI president provided the icing on the cake by describing the tragic fire as merely “an accident”.
The importance of the above statements lies in the tragic fact that there is no understanding about the historical significance of the Baldia factory fire and its implication on the key question as to whether the poor can ever get justice in Pakistan. It has three significant features. read more.
* SHC seeks comments on delay in identifying victims:
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday issued notices to the interior secretary, the provincial police chief and the SITE station house officer on a petition over the failure of the authorities to identify two victims of a Baldia garments factory fire despite the lapse of over four months.
Hussain Ahmed and Dilawar Hussain submitted that their sons, Sharjeel and Asif Aziz, who were worked as a helper and a pressman in the ill-fated factory, Ali Enterprises, lost their lives in the September 11, 2011 blaze, which claimed the lives of more than 250 employees.
They said the authorities obtained blood samples twice for identifying the victims, but despite the lapse of over four months the bodies had been neither identified nor handed over to them for funeral.
The petitioners said that despite a government announcement of compensation for the legal heirs of the victims, they were not being given any compensation. They claimed that the tragic incident had taken place due to lack of safety measures and dishonesty and negligence on the part of the factory owners, other shareholders and government departments, including labour, environment, civil defence, social security and buildings control. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Textile industry asked to take full advantage of EU concessions:
Pakistan Ambassador to Germany Abdul Basit has observed that Pakistani businessmen and diaspora are the backbone of Pakistan’s economy.
He said without their unflinching faith in Pakistan our economy would have been in a far more difficult situation. He advised the Pakistani entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the EU tariff concessions of 75 items valid for this year.
He said this while visiting the Home Textile Exhibition in Frankfurt which concluded here on Saturday. 219 companies from Pakistan participated in the fair. read more.
* Textile industry likely to miss export target by $3.5 billion:
Pakistan”s textile industry is likely to miss export target by 3.5 billion dollars due to power and gas crisis, it is learnt.
Gas supply to the industry is completely cut off since December last year, while only 14 hours power is being supplied to the industry, which has affected 33 percent capacity of textile industry, industry sources revealed to Business Recorder here on Friday.
Textile exports target of 16 billion dollars was estimated for the current year; however exporters fear a shortfall of 3.5 billion dollars in textile exports this year due to severe energy shortage. The industry has already faced a loss of 1.5 billion dollars in Christmas orders as exporters declined to accept about 50 percent orders due to their inability to produce because of the power and gas cuts. read more.