19:33:14 local time CHINA
* Local harvests give China record cotton reserves:
China, the world’s biggest cotton grower and consumer, has amassed record reserves by buying local harvests over the past two years to protect farmers and not to control global markets, a State-run trade group said.
The stockpiling was originally drafted as a temporary backup plan when supply exceeds demand, the China Cotton Association said. The country has bought local cotton since 2011 to ease a plunge in prices and boost farmers’ profits. to read.
18:33:14 local time VIET NAM
* Garment, textile businesses step up production:
All garment and textile enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City have stepped up production so as to timely deliver goods to importers in the US, EU and Japan before the Tet holiday season begins.
With only ten days to go before the nine-day long Tet Lunar New Year holidays begin, production is being stepped up before workers return to their hometowns to be with their families.
Enterprises are therefore working with speed and full capacity to ensure timely delivery. In case of delays in dispatch of goods, they will have to pay a much higher amount by way of airfreight costs. read more.
* Textile and garment industry focus on key markets:
The US, Japan, the EU and the Republic of Korea will remain key export markets for Vietnam’s textile and garment industry in 2013, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).
The association believes the US will continue to be the national textile and garment industry’s largest market in the coming time. Japan is expected to surpass the EU to become the second biggest importer with a turnover of 2.37 billion USD, an 18 percent increase from 2012.
VITAS forecasts a slight increase in global demand for textiles and garments, including a 3 percent increase in the US, 18 percent in Japan and 5 percent in other markets.
Vietnam’s textile and garment industry has high expectations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP) in 2013. Businesses are taxed highly in the US, affecting the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods. But when the TPP is signed, a number of import duties will be reduced.
To help businesses overcome difficulties in 2013, VITAS has submitted a proposal to the Government for more investment to improve the image of the nation and the industry, boosting closer cooperation between Vietnamese businesses and the country’s embassies abroad to carry out promotional activities.
The association has also proposed a mechanism for cooperation among businesses, VITAS and the Government.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 27/1. & read more.
* FTA with Korea to boost Vietnamese garment exports:
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and South Korea, talks for which are scheduled to begin in this quarter, is likely to creative a positive impact on the trade relation between the two countries, including a rise in exports of garment from Vietnam to South Korea, according to Mr. Vo Thanh Ha, deputy director of the Asia Pacific Market Department under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Speaking at a seminar on the Vietnam-South Korea FTA talks, he said South Korea is the fourth largest trade partner of Vietnam whereas Vietnam is the sixth largest export market of South Korea and the two-way trade relation between the two countries had grown sharply from US$ 500 million in 1992 to US$ 21.1 billion in 2012. read more.
18:33:14 local time THAILAND
* Skilled labourers see daily wages climb:
Keep Moo Road day-labour market thriving; workers earning between Bt500-Bt900
While SMEs are crying over the blanket Bt300 wage, fierce competition in some industries and the scarcity of skilled workers is pushing the daily pay of some above Bt500.
For the past eight years, Narong Jampatho, 30, a tile layer, has never found difficulty in finding someone willing to pay him Bt700 per day, allowing him to earn Bt20,000 a month. Some of his relatives from Nong Bua Lamphu are also in Bangkok at his persuasion. read more.
18:33:14 local time CAMBODIA
* Officials draft sub-decree to develop the silk sector:
Officials at the Ministry of Commerce met on Friday to draft a sub-decree for the promotion and development of the Cambodian silk sector, but industry experts say the draft does not do enough for the local producers who make raw materials used in the production of silk.
Pan Sorasak, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, told the Post yesterday that the sub-decree was not yet finalised but that it would not take long to complete. read more.
17:33:14 local time BANGLA DESH
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* ‘No proof of sabotage in Tazreen fire’ :
Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir on Sunday said there was no proof of any “act of sabotage” behind the fire at Ashulia’s Tazreen Fashions Ltd, which claimed the lives of over hundred garment workers late last year.
He said there was no evidence to prove that the factory authorities would have “benefited” by deliberately setting the factory ablaze. He made the comments after a meeting at the ministry over the current law and order situation.
The minister’s comment is in sharp contrast to the recent report of his ministry’s investigation team, which recommended suing 10 officials of Tazreen Fashions Ltd, including its owner Delwar Hossain, for the fire.
The committee in the report also maintained that it was an “act of sabotage”, but it failed to identify those responsible for the loss of 111 lives on Nov 24 last year. A probe by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) echoed the Home Ministry report. to read.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
Building, factory set up unlawfully but manufactured products of top European buyers on sub-contract
Smart Export Garments Ltd, where seven workers died in a blaze on Saturday, used to produce clothing items at an unlicensed factory for European brands under sub-contract.
In a visit to the factory in Mohammadpur, it was found that there was neither any fire-fighting equipment nor exit signs on walls at the factory.
Nasima Khanam, the owner of the building, acknowledged that she did not have any approval from Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) for constructing the building.
She, however, claimed that it was not necessary to take approval from Rajuk since the site is located outside Mohammadpur flood protection dam.
Nasima told The Daily Star over the phone that when the factory owners contacted her for renting a floor of the building, they told her that they were not big garment manufacturers. read more.
* Smart Garments never applied for fire licence:
Neither extinguisher nor emergency exit found in the ravaged factory
The fire-ravaged Smart Export Garments Ltd in city’s Mohammadpur area has no minimum fire safety measures that led to the deadly blaze Saturday last, claiming seven lives, fire investigators told the FE after visiting the spot.
They also said owners of the apparel unit even did not feel the necessity of obtaining fire licence before going into production.
“We did not find any fire safety initiatives by the owners at the factory to protect its workers as well as valuables of the unit,” Director (Operations) of Fire Service and Civil Defence Major Mahbub Uddin said.
Mr Mahbub, who is also a key member of the four-member probe team formed by the fire department, was talking to the FE correspondent Sunday afternoon after inspecting the place of occurrence. read more.
* Workers worried about future:
Workers of the burnt-out Smart garment factory were worried about their wages and jobs employment as the government did not take any decision on them until Sunday.
The family of a fire victim has filed a case against five owners of the Smart Export Garment Ltd. The fire that broke out on Saturday afternoon left seven female workers dead.
Frustration has gripped most of the workers as the factory closed and the owners went into hiding after the blaze. The workers gathered in front of the burnt-out
factory on Sunday to vent their frustration.
Rowshan Ara, a worker of the factory, told New Age that they were yet to get assurances from the government about their last month’s wage and next employment.
‘If we do not get the wage, how can we pay house rent and meet other daily expenses,’ she said. read more.
* BTGWF holds demo before BGMEA Bhaban Monday:
Bangladesh Textile Garments Workers Federation will stage a sit-in in front of the BGMEA Bhaban in the city tomorrow (Monday), demanding punishment of those responsible for fire incidents at Smart Garments in the city and at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia.
According to a press, the organization will hold the programme at about 11am demanding the arrest and punishment of the garment owners and government officials who were responsible for the two fire incidents. to read.
* Fire in city’s RMG factory again exposes lax safety measures at workplaces:
The latest deadly fire incident in a small garment factory in Dhaka city has again sparked uproar among local and international labour rights groups over lax safety measures in most workplaces in Bangladesh.
At least seven workers were killed and 15 others injured in the fire that occurred at Smart Export Garments Ltd at Beribadh area of Mohammadpur on Saturday.
Fire Service officials said on Sunday after inspection that the factory had no proper fire safety equipment and the ground floor housed a bakery. But the officials were yet to find out the cause of fire.
It was the second deadly fire incident in last two months, after the country’s worst factory inferno killed 112 workers and injured nearly 200 at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia in Savar on November 24.
Hundreds of workers held a rally in front of the National Press Club Sunday afternoon and demanded adequate safety measures in all factories and demanded punishment to the owners who had failed to make their factories compliant with safety measures. read more.
* Strike fire, building safety deal:
Three influential labour rights organisations have called on major garment retailers and brands to join a fire and building safety accord to prevent factory tragedies in Bangladesh.
The International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) made the move after Saturday’s fire at Smart Export Garments Ltd in the capital, which killed at least seven female workers and injured several others.
That was the latest in a pattern of deadly industrial fires, which, according to labour rights advocates, could have been prevented had appropriate measures been taken.
No brand or retailer has so far come forward to acknowledge any connection with Smart Export Garments. The factory reportedly had some 300 workers and produced goods for US and European brands and retailers. In a joint statement issued on the day of the incident, the labour rights groups said the foreign buyers that had used to work with Smart Export should immediately take responsibility and compensate the victims. read more.
* Foreign labels found in latest RMG factory fire:
The unlicensed garment factory in the city where seven women workers died in a fire Saturday was making clothing for Spanish giant Inditex and several French brands, reports AFP.
An AFP correspondent sifting through the charred remains of the Smart Export factory Sunday found labels such as Bershka, a retailer owned by Inditex; Sol’s; Scott and Fox; and G Blog, which is part of France’s Gemo.
Sourcing by global retailers first came under the spotlight just two months ago, after deadliest garment factory fire killed 111 workers who were making clothing for Walmart and a variety of Western firms. read more.
* Major European brands linked to latest Bangladesh Factory Fire:
Labels Bershka and Lefties (Inditex), KIK, New Look found on site
The Clean Clothes Campaign, along with labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world, calls for immediate action from international brands following yesterday’s fire in Dhaka Bangladesh, which cost the lives of seven more women garment workers.
Four of them were only seventeen years old.
Activists today managed to enter the ruins of “Smart Exports” and found labels linking major European retailers to this latest tragedy: Bershka and Lefties, both of which belong to Inditex, owner of the well-known Zara brand and the world’s largest clothing retailer; KIK Okay, belonging to the German price fighter KIK, and New Look, Scott and Fox, and Solo Invest, all French brands.
The refusal of these brands to address the safety issues that caused previous factory fires leaves them directly responsible for yet another tragic loss of life.
The Clean Clothes Campaign, together with other international labour rights groups, yesterday asked brands  again to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, and work with local and global unions to ensure that buildings are
upgraded and workers can freely report safety hazards and other violations.
KIK was sourcing from Tazreen fashions where 112 workers died in a fire just over 2 months ago, and the same KIK label was also found at at the Ali Enterprises factory (Pakistan), where nearly 300 workers burned to death last September. Inditex and Solo Invest also both sourced from the notorious Spectrum factory  where 64 workers were killed in 2005.
“Workers continue to die, and brands continue to waste time and make up excuses instead of taking action. KIK still has not paid the Tazreen Fashions victims their compensation, and they lack medical care. [See & read more.]
Inditex was asked to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement over a year ago.
Meanwhile they all continue to expand their production in Bangladesh, knowing full well that the buildings are unsafe” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
Together with our partners in Bangladesh and internationally, the CCC continues to fight for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of the fires, for full and fair compensation to be paid to the victims and their families and importantly concrete action from all parties involved to end this sad and pointless loss of life.
* Again fire, again deaths:
Will we ever reform?
It seems that we are either unable or unwilling to learn from our mistakes and rectify.
If that has been so, another seven unfortunate garment workers would not have fallen victim to the stupidity of a garment factory owner and management. Seven women workers of a garment factory in the capital city were killed, and it is learnt that the main gate was locked when the fire started. Again repetition of insensible acts costing human lives.
It is absolutely unacceptable that only two months after the greatest tragedy to strike the garment sector for many years in Bangladesh, another tragedy very soon after that should take more human lives. It is no excuse that the said factory is not a member of the BGMEA.
The fact is that it has license to operate and such is under the supervision of one or the other agencies. Reportedly, the factory had no fire fighting equipment. One wonders for how long the factory had been working under lax safety conditions. We might have never known at all of such a factory had it not been for the fire and the deaths resulting from it. read more.
* Ensuring safeguards against RMG factory fire:
Yet another fire tragedy struck a readymade garments factory on Saturday, this time right in the heart of the capital.
Seven women RMG workers died from asphyxiation in a stampede that followed the blaze. Although the fire was doused within two hours, most of the deaths and injuries occurred as the workers jumped in utter haste out of the second floor of the two-storey building. It is a surprise that the factory owner had not even taken permission from the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA).
This is claimed by the crisis management chief of the Association. It is simply not understandable how a RMG factory could operate without BGMEA monitoring. If it really did, it is for the administration to find out how it secured permission to set up the factory itself and went on making apparels without any permission from the authorities that give go-ahead to manufacturing and export. It is now time for the government to assign the BGMEA the task of being a watchdog in matters of garments manufacturing in the country if it does not have any other authority to do it.
The latest deaths at the Smart factory fire bring to the fore serious occupational and workplace hazards the RMG workers are facing today. Beside the Tazreen Fashions fire that killed 112 workers, at least 25 people died in a blaze in the same industrial area in December 2010. In February 2006, a fire in KTS Textiles and Garments in Chittagong had claimed 54 lives.
* Gloom looms large over RMG industries:
Another fire at another garment factory in Bangladesh! Before the nation could forget the tragedy, before the bereaved could wipe out the whole episode from their mind, before the injured could find their wounds to heal after the country’s deadliest industrial fire at Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia in the outskirts of Dhaka on November 24, that killed at least 112 garment workers, another fire has raged through another garment factory on January 26, in Dhaka, that killed at least seven workers.
Two tragedies struck only two months apart, leaving many observers too stunned to understand what is happening in the garments industries in Bangladesh and why.
Why are the garment factories in Bangladesh being so engulfed in flames so frequently? Is it the result of only carelessness on the part of the owners of garment factories? Is it only due to the culture of impunity the garment employers enjoy after such mishaps?
Is it only the shoddy workmanship of an engineer or only a loose wiring made by an unlicensed electrician or the irresponsibility on the part of a guard or a gatekeeper, or only a dropped burning cigarette that we should always blame for all these infernos? If we concentrate our investigative mind on these questions alone, we may inadvertently and tragically avoid a larger picture of a conspiracy that might be going on against our burgeoning garment industries that perhaps many foreign competitors and their agents in our country are looking at with envy.
Not much is voiced or written about such international conspiracies. We must break a conspiracy of silence that is hiding such schemes. read more.
* Sign TICFA with no delay:
GM Quader fears scrapping of GSP will hurt country’s image globally
Bangladesh should sign the TICFA with the US before the next GSP hearing at the United States Trade Representative in March, Commerce Minister GM Quader said yesterday.
“We have to protect the generalised system of preferences in the US market. It is needed not only for economic reasons, but for protecting the country’s image globally,” Quader said.
Early signing of the TICFA [Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement] will enhance Bangladesh’s bargaining power to the USTR hearing, he said.
Quader’s comments came at the closing ceremony of the eight International Plastic fair, a four-day exhibition on plastic goods, printing and machinery, held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. read more. & read more.
* US team happy with safety standards: BGMEA chief:
The US Congress delegation was satisfied with safety standards at garment factories and was optimistic about the future of the industry, the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said yesterday.
“I think they are happy and have been impressed by the work we are doing in the areas of health and fire safety,” said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin.
His comments came after the US team visited Sepal Garments, an export-oriented factory, owned by ruling party lawmaker Tipu Munshi, in Tejgaon, Dhaka.
The US Congressional delegation arrived in the capital on Saturday on a brief visit to discuss contemporary issues including the generalised system of preferences (GSP) with top government officials and garment leaders. read more.
* US congress team for duty free access to US market:
The visiting US Congressional delegation believes that Bangladesh should get duty free and quota free access to the US market, said Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Sunday.
Dipu Moni told this to reporters at her office after attending a luncheon meeting with the four-member US Congressional delegation led by Jack Kingston at the state guesthouse Padma.
The foreign minister also said the delegation suggested appointing lobbyists for projecting Bangladesh’s achievements in the US congress.
Bangladesh needs lobbyists so that they could pursue the US congress, Dipu Moni added. read more. & read more.
* ‘Get lobbyist to retain free US access’:
The US Congressional delegation on Sunday advised Bangladesh to appoint an lobbyist to retain duty-free access of its products to the US market, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said.
“They also want the duty-free facility Bangladesh currently enjoys to continue,” she said, “but it needs support from more congressmen and that’s why they suggested appointing lobbyist.”
The minister was speaking with journalists at her office after the luncheon meeting with the visiting four-strong delegation, led by Jack Kingston.
The delegation made the visit amid recommendations by some Congressmen to withdraw, suspend or limit the duty-free access to Bangladesh’s products to the US market under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility. Products with GSP get duty-free access. read more.
* US Congressional delegation visit factory:
US Congressional delegation Sunday visited an apparel factory in the city to have a glance on working environment and expressed their satisfaction, sources said who accompanied the team.
They went to a Sepal Group factory, one of the leading ventures in the clothing industry in Bangladesh. “After seeing the plant they expressed their satisfaction over the world standard manufacturing facilities,” said the source.
The delegation that included Jack Kingston, Ed Whitfield, Scott Tipton and Adam Schiff rounded various sections of the factory and talked to the management personnel.
The delegation had a firsthand look at the production lines and production mechanisms and voiced satisfaction with the advanced technologies being utilized by the factory. read more.
* Bangladesh competes with China in apparel trade:
A leading textile and apparel company of Bangladesh said the country is competing with China now in the global apparel trading.
Though the gap between China and Bangladesh is pretty huge, the gap between Bangladesh and other countries such as, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia is widening, said the CEO of one of South Asia’s largest vertically integrated textile and garment company in Bangladesh. In an interview with fashion based web news portal, fibre2fashion, Syed Naved Husain, CEO of Bangladesh-based Beximco Ltd, elaborated on various topics touching upon the global textile-apparel industry and the potential of Bangladesh in apparel trade in the near future.
When asked on current status of Bangladesh apparel sector and its growth prospects in the future, he said, “The apparel industry today is doing very well and poised for an excellent growth trajectory in coming years. Of the population of between 160-170 million, around 50 percent is in the age group of 20-30 years.
* Two BJMC mills re-opened to revive jute production:
The government has re-opened two jute mills in Chittagong in a bid to revitalize country’s jute industry. Karnaphuli Jute Mills and Forat-Karnaphuli Carpet Factory produce jute goods especially carpet backing cloths, hessian cloths and sacking.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the mills which will now be operated under state-run BJMC after it was transferred to the government by Saad Musa group, a local industrial conglomerate that ran the mills for about four years and a half. read more.
* Bring rapists to book, demand protesters:
Different organisations formed human chains in front of Manikganj Press Club yesterday and on Friday demanding exemplary punishment to the rapists of the garment worker.
Police said the 18-year-old garment worker was raped on a running bus on Dhaka Aricha highway by the driver and helper of the bus and then thrown out of the vehicle at Manora in Manikganj Sadar Upazila on Thursday afternoon.
Law enforcers arrested the driver, Dipu Miah, 30, and his helper Kashem Miah, 28, the same day. They were produced in the Judicial Magistrate’s Court-1, Manikganj, on Friday. After recording their confessional statements, Senior Judicial Magistrate Sheikh Md Mujahid-ul-Islam sent them to jail.
The human chain programmes were organised by Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA), Karmajibi Nari, students of Government Devendra College, Gono Sanghati Andolon, Bangladesh Chhatra Federation, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Jatiya Mahila Sangstha, Jaiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Inu) and Bangladesh Chhatra Federation. read more.
* BGMEA protests rape of garment worker:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Saturday protested rape of a garment worker on a running bus. They demanded strict punishment for the criminal bus driver and his assistants.
BGMEA said the incident has panicked all the garment workers which is painful to this industry.
An 18-year-old girl was raped on a running bus and then thrown out of the vehicle on Dhaka-Aricha highway Thursday. The victim was a garment worker of Ashulia.
She got on the bus at Nabinagar terminal to go to her village in Pangsha upazila of Rajbari. read more. & read more.
17:03:14 local time INDIA
* Closure of dyeing units hardly hits knitwear industry:
Things changing for good on the pollution front; 16 CETPs, covering 420 dyeing units, have obtained TNPCB permission
It is now two years since the Madras High Court delivered a landmark judgment ordering the closure of dyeing and bleaching units in the Tirupur knitwear cluster for polluting the river Noyyal for decades.
The order was pronounced solely because the dyeing fraternity did not adhere to the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) norms despite the directions from the Supreme Court and High Court.
Contrary to the fears expressed at that time in certain quarters, the closure of dyeing units has not altered much the industrial prowess of the cluster as the export turnover and sales from domestic sales did not dip during the last two years.
* Workers of Mahendra Mills may get dues after over a decade:
The plot of Kalol-based Mahendra Mills Ltd, which went into liquidation over a decade ago, will now be auctioned at base price of Rs 130 crore and the proceedings will be used to pay the outstanding due of the mill workers.
The Gujarat High Court has agreed to the sale of the total land of the mill admeasuring 1.57 lakh square metres proposed by the Official Liquidator (OL). Accepting the OL’s report, Justice R M Chhaya has asked him to issue advertisements next week and bids would be opened before the company court on March 1, the day of auction. read more.
* TUFS to give more emphasis on weaving sector in 12th five year plan:
the scheme met with huge success in its first phase, has seen lukewarm response since last couple of years
Textile ministry is planning to more emphasis now on weaving sector under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS). The scheme will come in new avtar in 12th five year plan and will include more incentives for weaving sector, official sources said.
“At the moment, the proposal is at the consultative stage and the message has been put forward that more emphasis needs to be laid on the weaving sector,” said A B Joshi, textile commissioner. read more.
* SGS India offers carbon footprint marks to textile sector:
* Pawar suspects genetically modified crops opposed by vested interests:
Union agriculture minister and NCPsupremoSharadPawar gave a new twist to the controversy on genetically modified (GM) crops like cotton and soyabean. He said the fact that lobbies in the United States could be funding campaigns in India against GM crops, especially in soyabean, so as to protect the interests of large seed and oil exporters.
“India is a major importer of edible oils. We spend to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore on edible oil imports. Of this, soya oil is a big chunk. If soya GM crop is taken up on a large scale in India, its output and that of oil extracted from it would increase considerably and at some time exports may not be required,” said Pawar adding that he suspected that MNCs that would be hit hard could be funding campaigns against GM soya crop in India. read more.
* Stable outlook rating for 88% of cotton textile mills:
India Ratings’ outlook for cotton textiles remains negative to stable for 2013 on account of subdued demand, although margins are expected to benefit from softening raw material prices.
The outlook for synthetic textiles remains negative for 2013 due to reversal of substitution demand and oversupply in domestic partially oriented yarn, pressurizing selling prices and margins of synthetic textile companies.
Stable Cotton Prices: Muted international demand of cotton and surplus production are likely to keep cotton prices stable and range-bound during 2013. India Ratings expects cotton yarn manufacturers to benefit from slow but steady pick-up in domestic demand, the likely higher demand of cotton yarn from China and improving margins on account of low cotton prices and firm cotton yarn prices. read more.
* Jute industry to seek withdrawal of duty on imported fibre:
Exports have fallen by almost 15% because of stiff competition from other countries
Alarmed over the rise in raw jute imports from Bangladesh, a section of the jute industry in the country has decided to approach the Central government to discontinue the 4% special additional duty (SAD) imposed on imported fibre.
There is an over 75% increase in imports of high quality raw jute from Bangladesh in the past five years. Figures available from land customs – Petrapole, West Bengal show that raw jute imports have gone up from approximately 0.5 million bales in 2006-07 to almost 0.9 million bales till 2011-12. read more.
17:03:14 local time SRI LANKA
* Factories closing after GSP loss:
Sri Lanka has begun to feel the effects of the loss of the GSP plus facility, after the closure of number of factories and reduction of export orders, Daily Mirror learns.
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) Plus is a mechanism that gives preferential access to the markets in the European Union for exports from number of countries.
However, the European Union excluded Sri Lanka from the list of beneficiary countries on February 16, 2010 due to the non-implementations of certain good governance regulations.
According to the European Union, the GSP Plus was introduced as a mechanism to encourage good governance and strengthen democracy in the world.
After three years, several factories have been closed down due to the inability to maintain their export markets in the European Union. read more.
* Sri Lankan apparel exports to remain flat in 2013:
Despite some chances of receiving additional export orders due to a shift from China, Sri Lankan garment exports will remain flat this year, according to an expert.
Mr. Yohan Lawrence, chairman of Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SAEA), told fibre2fashion, “Sri Lankan clothing exports for this year are likely to remain at last year’s level.”
“According to official data, Sri Lanka’s garment exports were down by 7 percent till November 2012,” he informs. read more.
16:33:14 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* NGOs go to court over PM’s ‘interference’:
Several NGOs advocating human rights have gone to the court against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for his alleged interference in the proceedings of the Baldia factory fire case.
They have also asked the court to order that the gutted factory be turned into a rehabilitation centre for the victims’ families.
The Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, National Trade Union Federation, Hosiery Garments Textile and General Workers Union, are among six petitioners who have filed a petition in the Sindh High Court.
The factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhaila as well as his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila – have been named in FIR 343 of 2012, registered at the SITE-B police station under Sections 435, 436, 337, 322, 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. According to the petitioners, the Prime Minister in his address to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on December 29,2012 reportedly said that “the authorities should re-investigate the Baldia fire case and provide justice to the employers of Ali Enterprises if a wrong case has been registered against them under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code.” read more.
* Fire fallout:
The Baldia factory fire last year killed 289 people and should have become the focus for a concerted nationwide campaign to raise the standards of safety in the workplace.
So many workers died because the doors were locked from the outside and the firefighting and warning systems were inadequate – both within the factory and in terms of responses by the emergency services. Yet, instead of being a tragedy from which lessons are learned and new measures implemented, it has turned into a legal battlefield in which the losers may be the relatives of the dead and the winners the factory owners who bear a considerable responsibility for the lives lost.
The government’s response to the tragedy says a great deal about how our ‘democratic’ leaders think and the extent to which they respect – or fail to respect – the rights of the working classes. The families of the dead were shocked on Wednesday last week when Minister of State for Finance Salim Mandviwalla said that charges under Section 302 against the factory owners were being withdrawn from the case. read more.
* Tribunal chief alleges negligence on part of management:
The inquiry tribunal, formed by the Sindh government to ascertain the causes of Baldia factory fire, has submitted its report to the Sindh Home Department and the Chief Minister but it is yet to be made public.
The tribunal, led by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alavi and assisted by Additional Secretary Home Dr. Khalil-ur-Rehman, was given the task to ascertain the causes of fire at M/s Ali Enterprises in September 2012 and fix responsibility.
Talking to The News on Sunday, Chairman of the Tribunal Justice Alavi said that he has submitted the inquiry report to the Home Department as well as the chief minister Sindh, which should be made public, adding: “I have already made the report public when I allowed media to report all proceedings of the tribunal”.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Pakistan textile sector loses $1bn export orders:
Pakistan textile sector has lost around US$ 1billion worth of export orders during the last few months due to the shortage in supply of power and energy to the textile industries in Pakistan’s Punjab region.
Mr. Ahsan Bashir, Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), said in the first half of the current fiscal year that began on July 1, 2013, the country’s textile and garment exports would have increased by US$ 1 billion had the industry been provided with uninterrupted energy supply.
He added that despite the shortage of power and energy, Pakistan textile industry achieved a growth of 8.55 percent and clicked US$ 500 million in the first half of the current fiscal year. read more.
* Gas to Punjab industries from Feb 1:
APTMA defers protest
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Saturday postponed their protests as the government assured provision of gas supply to the industries in Punjab from February 01.
APTMA Chairman Gohar Ijaz said that he held conclusive talks with Petroleum Advisor Dr Asim Hussain and MD Sui Gas Arif Hameed, media reported.
Ijaz said that the petroleum advisor has assured him the provision of gas supply to all the industries from February 01.
The APTMA Chairman said the association also decided to shelve their province-wide protests. The gas supply to industries in Punjab remained suspended from December last year, he told.
Meanwhile, MD Sui Gas Arif Hameed said that they are making efforts to provide gas supply to the industries despite huge energy shortfall. Procedures regarding gas supply to the industries and its monitoring would soon be finalised, he added.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Gas Outages: Workers, employers hold protest rallies:
Protesters, carrying placards and banners, were chanting slogans like “Give us gas to run our factories and earn our livelihood.” PHOTO: APP
Thousands of workers and industrialists of the textile industry on Saturday held protest rallies across the city and staged a huge demonstration against severe gas outages at the District Council Chowk.
Big rallies were staged at Khurianwala, Millat Road, Sargodha Road and other parts of the city. Protesters, carrying placards and banners, were chanting slogans like “Give us gas to run our factories and earn our livelihood”. They also set tyres on fire and burnt effigies of the country’s rulers.
Speaking to the protesters, Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Asghar Ali asked the government to ensure uninterrupted gas supply, which has been missing for the past seven weeks in Punjab, to keep industries running and enable their workers to make both ends meet. read more. & read more.
* Textile mills to get gas after a two-month break:
Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), which covers areas of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, has assured the disgruntled textile industrialists that it will restore 25% of gas supply from the beginning of next month, after a hiatus of about two months.
A decision in this connection was reached in a meeting between the management of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) and Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain and SNGPL Managing Director Arif Hameed on Saturday.
Gas supply to the industry has remained completely shut since December 5, 2012 and electricity supply was stopped from December 22 to January 1, causing a 40% drop in industrial production in Punjab. Later, the electricity was restored on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari to the Ministry of Water and Power, asking it to ensure uninterrupted supply for 16 hours a day. read more.
* Yarn export to increase by 10 percent this season:
Greater demand from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand to increase export to 825,000 pounds from 750,000 pounds
Pakistan’s yarn export is expected to increase by 10 percent to 825,000 pounds this season (January to June 2013) as against 750,000 pounds during the same period last year to China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand due to greater demand, exporters said on Saturday.
Pakistan usually exports 25 percent of its total production of 3 million pounds of yarn per annum while remaining is always sufficient for the value added apparel sector in the country.
The country produces more than 255,000 pounds yarn per month while local consumption including downstream textile sector stands at more than 20,000 pounds per month. read more.
* Textile exports up 20 percent in five years, National Assembly told :
The exports of textile sector rose to $12.5 billion from $10.3 billion, (a 20 percent increase) during last five years. In written reply to a question, Minister for Textile Industry Makhdoom Shahabuddin Saturday told the National Assembly the exports of textiles products in 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 stood at $10.3 billion, $13.8 billion and $12.5 billion, respectively.
In first quarter of current year 2012-13 (July-September) the exports of textiles products were recorded at $3.60 billion, which is a good sign, he added. The minister said a detailed in-house analysis has been conducted by Mintex and as a result Textiles Policy (2009-14) document was prepared by this ministry to identify the loopholes in the sector. read more.
* Textile machinery imports fall on sluggish business activities:
The imports of textile machinery slumped by 15.4 percent during the first half of the fiscal year due to the phenomenal decrease in textile exports and output capacity in view of worst law and order situation and severe energy crisis.
According to official data, machinery worth $193.864 million was imported during July-December FY13 compared with import of $229.272 million during the same period last year. In December 2012 alone, the machinery imports fell by 55.6 percent to $30.5 million from $68.755 million in December last.
According to Haroon Agar, president of the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, overall investment in the industrial sector slowed down because of multiple reasons. read more.
* PRGMEA urges govt to implement 27 conventions:
* Monsanto introduces BT cotton:
Leading international seed company Monsanto formally made an intervention of showcasing its new technology at farm land of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad to enable agricultural stakeholders witness the upcoming technology.
The event of sowing second generation genetically modified corn at UAF was held at UAF with UAF VC Professor Dr Iqrar A Khan as chief guest on Sunday morning. Addressing the participants, Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan described the event a wonderful beginning of University Industry Linkage. He said Monsanto had introduced BT cotton in the country adding that the cotton we are growing on the name of Bt is originally designed by Monsanto. read more.
16:33:14 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbekistan: Forced Labor Widespread in Cotton Harvest:
Uzbek authorities have increased the use of forced labor by adults and older children in the cotton sector during the past year, Human Rights Watch said today. The move was apparently made to shift the burden away from younger children in response to public scrutiny and international pressure.
For the 2012 harvest, the Uzbek government forced over a million of its own citizens, children and adults – including its teachers, doctors, and nurses – to harvest cotton in abusive conditions on threat of punishment, Human Rights Watch found. The authorities harassed local activists and journalists who tried to report on the issue. In 2011, Uzbekistan was the world’s fifth largest exporter of cotton.