16:47:15 local time PHILIPPINES
* EU duty-free privileges at risk if PHL fails rights, ‘green’ tests:
The European Union (EU) is set to open the doors for fresh duty-free privileges to Philippine exports once Manila proves it has passed stringent criteria of good government and adherence to international conventions related to labor rights and the environment.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Philippines has hurdled the first criterion in the availment of wider duty-free access to the European market under the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)-Plus scheme.
The first criterion, according to DTI, is the non-diversification of exports and low proportions of EU imports. “The EU indicated that the Philippines is now eligible under the first criterion.” read more.
* DTI May Apply For EU-GSP+ :
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is assessing the possibility of the Philippines to apply for the GSP+ scheme of the EU, a special incentive arrangement for EU-GSP beneficiary countries that observe sustainable development and good governance.
This developed after the DTI conducted a seminar on the benefits of the EU GSP recently in Manila. The seminars will also be conducted in Cebu and Davao.
“The DTI’s Bureaus Export Trade Promotion (BETP) and International Trade Relations (BITR) are currently coordinating with concerned government agencies to discuss and assess the possibility of the Philippines applying to the GSP+ scheme,” the DTI said in a statement. read more.
15:47:15 local time VIET NAM
* Nearly 150 workers hospitalized for food poisoning in Vietnam:
As many as 148 employees of a garment company in southern Vietnam have been hospitalized shortly after a dinner at their work place on Wednesday, local media reported Thursday.
After showing symptoms of food poisoning, including stomachache and vomiting, the victims, who work for the Terratex Vietnam Limited Co. in Ho Chi Minh City, were sent to hospital Thursday morning.
The victims also included 20 pregnant women who suffered from headache and bellyache, the Voice of Vietnam reported.
Doctor Nguyen Xuan Hieu, who received the workers, said that some victims were discharged from hospital, but two others are currently in critical condition.
According to the report, the employees said they had eaten boiled eggs, toasted chicken, pork and sprouts.
Terratex Company reported several cases of food poisoning in 2007 and 2011, causing over 370 workers to be hospitalized. The cause of Wednesday’s suspected food poisoning is under investigation. to read.
* Bright forecast for textile industry:
Saigon 3 Garment Company factory
The domestic textile industry will be greeted with opportunities and orders in the near future.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the export quota in the first quarter of 2013 reached $1.05 billion, a 28.4pct increase compared to the same period last year. Most textile firms already have a lot of orders.
The Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) said Vietnam is on a priority list with many foreign importers. Even though the import industry of many countries decreased because of recession in 2012, Vietnam’s exports still increased by 9.2pct to US, 9pct to South Korea and 19.3pct to Japan. read more.
16:47:15 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage could ‘kill SMEs’:
Eighty per cent of small and medium-scale enterprises (SME) could be forced to shut down if the Government’s proposed minimum wage policy of between RM800 to RM1,000 is implemented across the board.
The SMI Association of Malaysia said SMEs were mostly labour-intensive and based on the nature of their operations, they would not be in the position to absorb the cost spike.
The effects of such ruling would be harder on the SMEs if implemented on a blanket basis, national vice-president Michael Kang said at a joint conference by 16 manufacturing, retail and service sector associations yesterday.
“You see, most of the SMEs are labour-intensive; they don’t have modern machines. An increase in salaries will have a tremendous effect on the manufacturing cost,” he said, “It could totally kill SMEs because for most of them, their net profit margin is only around 3% to 5% .” read more.
14:47:15 local time BANGLA DESH
* 3 workers hurt in stampede over CEPZ RMG factory fire:
Three workers received minor injuries while hastily coming out of a garment factory in the CEPZ due to fire.
They were given first aid in the BEPZA Hospital. General Manager of Chittagong Export Processing Zone SM Abdur Rashid said, the fire incident occurred when the workers were installing an exhaust fan in the Kang Book BD Ltd, a garments factory, at around 12.30 pm.
As the foams, stored in a room, caught fire from sparks of electric welding, the workers moved hastily out of the room and were injured in the melee. Fire fighters from the CEPZ compound rushed to the scene and doused the fire. to read.
* ‘Govt, opposition should come forward to save RMG sector’:
The government and opposition parties should come forward to resolve the ongoing political crisis to save the country’s largest foreign currency earning sector.
The appeal came Thursday at a press conference organised by the Sammilito Parishad to share its plan and objectives for the development of the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector ahead of the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) election, which is scheduled to be held on March 10.
“No hartal is acceptable for the sake of business and economy
both the groups must sit for an immediate dialogue to find a way out,” Managing Director of Islam Garments Ltd Atiqul Islam said. read more.
* Political crisis needs to be resolved politically: Apparel exporters:
Leaders of Sammilito Parishad, a platform which is contesting the BGMEA polls, on Thursday said they do not want to advise political parties but requested them to solve the political crisis politically through dialogue instead of enforcing hartals.
* GSP facility issue: BD will send online pre-brief submission to USTR Mar 14:
Bangladesh will send online pre-brief submission to the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) on March 14 over the generalised system of preferences (GSP) issue.
The Washington administration temporarily suspended the facility citing inadequate compliance of labour rights, a high trade official said.
With this end in view an interministerial meeting will be held on March 12 which will be presided over by commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed at the ministry of commerce (MoC). read more.
* Bangladesh rejects India’s request:
Bangladesh has rejected India’s request to notify it as a country from where it imports cotton yarn as input for textile products it exports to the European Union (EU).
“Bangladesh has not accepted India’s request,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D Purandeswari told the Lok Sabha in a written reply on March 4, according to Business Standard, an Indian English-language daily newspaper. India had been requesting Bangladesh for more than a year now to extend the EU’s generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) benefits to yarn exporters. If Bangladesh had notified India as a source country for its inputs, under the EU’s revised rules of origin, the tariff concession benefits of EU’s GSP would have been available to Indian fabric and yarn exporters to Bangladesh. read more. & read more.
* India slaps 16pc duty on RMG from Bangladesh:
Export of readymade garments (RMG) to India would face a major setback as the big neighbour’s parliament slapped nearly 16 per cent countervailing duty (CVD) on import of the products from Bangladesh, RMG sector insiders said.
The Indian measure came when the RMG exporters in Bangladesh starting viewing the neighbouring country as the next biggest export destination after the US and the EU following Delhi’s withdrawal of import duty on 48 garment products last year.
Despite many barriers like devaluation of the Indian rupee against the US dollar or the Lilliput debt issue, the growth in RMG export to India marked a notable rise-nearly 35 per cent-in the first seven months of the current financial year, according to the research cell of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). read more.
14:17:15 local time INDIA
* Your Clothes Are Making Indian Cotton Farmers Commit Suicide:
In the same month that 125 Bangladeshi fabric workers died in a factory fire, a film aiming to expose the tragedy of unrestricted globalised fashion – Dirty White Gold – reached its Sponsume target of £18,000. The film begins by examining the hundreds of thousands of Indian cotton farmers who, saddled by economic hopelessness, have taken their own lives. It’s a jolly little piece.
A Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice report describes the root of the problem: At the turn of the millennium, Indian farmers – enabled access to a wider range of products after India’s market liberalisation – started buying genetically modified “Bollgard Bt cotton” seeds from the Gates Foundation-backed Monsanto corporation. The seeds were able to resist and kill the common American Bollworm cotton pest, making them an instant hit, with 85 percent of cotton grown in India being Monsanto-controlled Bt cotton by 2009.
However, the seeds were expensive, and spiralling prices (coupled with planting restrictions from the multinationals selling the seeds) led to farmers approaching money-lenders for hefty loans that eventually turned into unmanageable debt. Almost 300,000 cotton workers have committed suicide to date, some of them by drinking the same insecticides they were sold by multinationals. And those suicides also bring up wider questions about the ethics of the fashion industry as a whole, in that this cotton is used in the clothes that end up absolutely everywhere. read more.
* Pay hikes of up to 19% likely: Survey:
Despite the economy crawling at its slowest pace in a decade, companies are set to dole out increments of up to 19% to retain talent in the new fiscal, a survey has shown.
A study by global consulting firm Mercer, released on Wednesday, estimates that India Inc will offer hikes of 12% in 2013-14 and top it up with promotion increase and market adjustment to ward off poachers. The increase comes at a time when the economy is poised to grow at its slowest pace in a decade with government estimating GDP growth in 2012-13 at just 5%.
“Employees are also not happy at the workplace as one out of every two employees is looking at new job opportunities… Talent retention is a problem,” said Muninder Anand, director at Mercer India. read more.
* TUFS attracts Rs.1,11,000-cr investment in three years:
The government has catalysed investements worth R1,11,000 crore in the textile sector in the three years through 2011-12 by offering a subsidy of R9,000 crore under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), a senior government official said on Tuesday.
The government expects to attract investments worth R1,51,000 crore through the scheme in the current Plan period, the official said. The Budget 2013-14 announced the continuation of the TUFS during the 12th Plan period through 2017 with a subsidy allocation of R11,952 crore. read more.
* Textile traders to go on indefinite strike:
The Anantapur District Textile Traders’ Association on Thursday informed that the textile traders in the district were going on an indefinite strike starting on March 9 demanding the government to abolish Vale Added Tax (VAT) on textiles.
Speaking to The Hindu , Vasant Jain, a representative of the Textile Traders’ Association, said that the government was adding to the existing price spiral burdening the people further. Besides this, the government was also discouraging business with higher prices at a time when the business sentiment was already low, he said. read more.
* Ministerial panel to review cotton export ban on March 9:
Apanel of ministers will on March 9 review the ban on cotton exports, textile secretary Kiran Dhingra said on Tuesday, after agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said he was kept in the dark about the decision and sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to lift the restriction.
A committee of top bureaucrats, comprising the secretaries of commerce, textile and agriculture, took a “unanimous view” to ban cotton exports in the year through September after meeting twice and taking a holistic view of domestic supplies in case the shipments aren’t curbed, Dhingra told in a news conference. read more.
* Indian Textiles Ministry streamlines cotton purchasing:
In cotton season 2012-13, seed kapas prices in Andhra Pradesh fell below the MSP prices. Ministry of Textiles in consultation with State Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Cotton Corporation of India put in place an effective mechanism for conduct of timely and efficient MSP operations by operationalization of 100 procurement centers in the districts of Warangal, Guntur and Adilabad so that farmers may not incur losses.
Cotton Corporation of India has procured 22.60 lac bales in November-February 2013 period effectively stabilizing seed kapas prices and ensured farmers in Andhra Pradesh received timely and remunerative prices. read more.
* Death by cotton:
In Maharashtra’s Mansawali village the story of farmer suicides persists as they continue to get entangled in the debt cycle of Bt cotton cultivation
The former Sarpanch of Mansawali village, Ashok Khadase, does not stop counting the honours his village received during his tenure as the village head. Mansawali is located in Hinganghat tehsil of Wardha district, around 60 km away from Wardha city.
“My village has been honoured with many State prizes. Mansawali was declared Tanta Mukti Gaon (dispute free village) three years ago. We also received Nirmal Gram Puraskar two years ago.”
But Ashok falls silent when it comes to farmers from his village who have committed suicide in the past few years. According to him, 15 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years and three in the last eight months. read more.
* Raymond temporarily suspends operations at Gujarat plant:
Raymond Ltd has temporarily suspended operations at its textile manufacturing plant in Valsad district of Gujarat, following closure notice from Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).
The notice was served on the company last week for alleged violation of environmental norms.
“Raymond has been served a closure notice after one of its waste (water) discharge pipelines got ruptured, and discharge was coming out in open,” GPCB Incharge Member Secretary K C Mistry told PTI. read more. & read more.
* Despite hit, Adidas to revive troubled Reebok Brand:
Adidas AG has said it will revive the troubled Reebok brand even as the German sportswear group increased the quantum of hit it took due to a financial irregularity in Reebok India almost 70% more than it previously estimated.
Adidas said the fraud in India in 2011 made a dent of e211 million, about Rs 1,500 crore, in its balance sheet for that year, much more than its last year’s estimate of e125 ( Rs 890 cr).
But the company said it is committed to both the brands. read more.
* ‘New law a weapon to combat sexual harassment at work’:
Punishing women for false complaints goes against spirit of the Act, says Subhashini Ali
Last week, Parliament passed an important legislation, one that seeks to protect the Indian working woman. The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment Bill 2010, now awaiting Presidential nod, lays down the law as far as employer responsibilities in dealing with sexual harassment goes.
Significantly, it covers many more sectors — domestic workers and agricultural labour — than when it first started out in 2010, and penalises employers who sit on complaints. In an interview with The Hindu, Subhashini Ali, president of the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, says the Bill is a good start. Excerpts:
14:17:15 local time SRI LANKA
* Tie apparel sector wages to net export earnings: economist:
There was somewhat of a stagnant period in the apparel sector between 2006 and 2010, but in 2011 and 2012 the apparel sector has achieved significant growth in terms of net export earnings per worker; however, wage increments have not kept pace with export earnings, observed Dr. Nishan De Mel, Director, Verite Research.
Addressing a forum organised by the Free Trade zones & General Services Employees’ Union (FTZ & GSEU) on “Foreign Investments & Garment Industry; What’s Wrong, Where” at the National Library Services Board auditorium, last week, Dr. De Mel said exports and wage trends in the apparel sector should be looked at closely by the Ministry of Labour.
“Wage increments have not kept pace with the rising cost of living, GDP growth nor export earnings,” Dr. De Mel pointed out. read more.
13:47:15 local time PAKISTAN
* PML-N will raise minimum wages to Rs 15,000:
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday announced to raise minimum wages to Rs 15,000 after coming into power.
Announcing the election manifesto, party chief Nawaz Sharif said that his government will end energy crisis within two years by generating 5,000 MW electricity through coal. He vowed that his party will conduct local government elections within six months of coming into power.
Employment: New employment opportunities will be provided to over 3 million individuals in public and private sectors, including 1 million in the information technology sector and 1 million in the SME sector. Minimum wage for workers will be gradually increased to Rs15,000 per month. read more. & read more.
* SACTWU steps up the fight for a living wage:
The Southern African Clothing and Textile Worker Union (SACTWU) put together national sectoral demands and an aggressive programme of action based on the 16,000 living wage demands collected from its members.
The living wage demands were consolidated at the SACTWU Annual National Bargaining Conference from 28 February to 3 March in preparation for the 2013 round of substantive negotiations.
SACTWU’s President, Themba Khumalo opened the Conference by reminding delegates that workers join unions for particularly one main reason: to improve their lives, the lives of their families and that of the communities from which they come. He reminded the 200 delegates that to realize these aims workers and their leaders need to be united and militant.
Delegates supported the government’s view that the clothing textiles and footwear industries had stabilised after 15 years of decline in employment in the sector. Delegates appreciated the acknowledgement of this by South African President Zuma in his recent State of the Nation address, where he also mentioned the governments clothing support scheme that has helped to prevent closures and saved many jobs. read more.
* Putin to attend discussions on light industry:
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the northwestern city of Vologda Thursday to attend discussions on the local textile industry.
Vologda is home to Vologda Textiles, Russia’s largest supplier of linen fabrics, both domestically and internationally.
Since its entry into the World Trade Organization in January, Russia has made its light industry a priority for development in an effort to diversify its economy, which depends heavily on the oil and gas sectors.
Russian Minister of Industry Denis Manturov has announced new measures aimed at helping firms like Vologda Textiles compete in global markets.
During his visit to Vologda Textiles, Putin congratulated workers on their recent successes at home and abroad and pledged his government’s renewed support.
* Exports of Iranian carpet reaches $400 million in 11 months: official:
Mohammad-Baqer Aqa-Alikhani, the chairman of Iran’s National Carpet Center, was quoted as saying on Wednesday.”Forty-five percent of Iran’s carpet is exported to Asian countries, 43 percent to European countries,” and the rest to other states, he said according to the report.
Iran’s hand-woven rugs are one of its main non-oil export items. The country produces about 5 million square meters of carpets annually, 80 percent of which is sold in international markets. to read.