17:33:51 local time PHILIPPINES
* Govt to weave roadmap for silk production:
The Philippines is looking forward to the weaving of a long-term strategy for expanding silk production that would provide local producers better access to assistance and niche markets, including the European fashion industry.
Cecilia Gloria Soriano, Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) administrator, said that the agency expects to complete this year the silk roadmap to help the industry propagate silk production to other areas in the country, as well as capture the gap in the worldwide supply of silk.
“This month, we hope to meet with representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry, and the private sector to discuss possible incentives to those who want to invest in silk-weaving industry and put up their own textile mills,” Soriano told reporters. read more.
* Philippines silk seeks foothold in fashion capitals:
While the fledgling Philippine silk industry is no match to those of Goliaths like China, the Fiber Industry Development Authority (Fida) believes it could make the industry earn a niche in Europe and other more sophisticated markets, particularly fashion capitals France and Italy.
Fida Administrator Cecilia Gloria Soriano said on Wednesday the government will prepare this year a plan that would expand silk production, which is now concentrated in Negros Occidental. read more.
16:33:51 local time VIET NAM
* FTA could be a curse in disguise:
Workers at a garment company in Vietnam. Textiles and garments are among Vietnam’s exports to the EU, along with footwear and woodwork products.
Vietnamese exporters are keenly interested in the free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated with the EU, but the FTA is unlikely to be of much benefit because of non-tariff barriers and the slow pace of policy change in Vietnam that could hinder investment from Europe.
Nguyen Van Nam, former director of the Trade Research Institute, said: “With big tariff cuts, the FTA will open up more opportunities for Vietnam to boost exports.
“But it will not be easy for our firms to take full advantage because of their low capacity to meet the EU’s strict quality requirements.” read more.
16:33:51 local time CAMBODIA
* Bandith hearing draws near:
The hearing of former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, who stands accused of shooting three garment workers at a protest last year, will be held before Khmer New Year, a Svay Rieng Provincial Court judge said yesterday.
In March, the Appeal Court reinstated charges of causing unintentional injury against the high-ranking official, ordering the lower court to hear the case some three months after it had dropped the charges, citing insufficient evidence.
Judge Leang Sour said court officials would hold a meeting on Monday to set the date.
“I’ll set the trial date to be as soon as possible. It has to be done before Khmer New Year,” he added.
Svay Rieng Provincial Court president Pech Chhoeut said the court was striving to set a date quickly “because the suspect has been out of detention”.
The powerful former Bavet town governor stands accused of shooting three women who were part of a 6,000-worker protest at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone calling for a wage increase and better working conditions. read more.
17:33:51 local time INDONESIA
* Environment use and decent work key to sustainable employment: ILO:
Realizing inclusive and sustainable growth requires further attention to the integration of social and environmental safeguards in its development framework, the International Labour Organization (ILO) says in a new report.
“Employment is an intersection that can bring together economic, social and environmental objectives,” ILO Indonesia country director Peter van Rooij said on Thursday.
He made the statement at the launch of the “Labour and Social Trends in Indonesia 2012: Working for a sustainable and equitable economy” report.
He explained that economic activities provided people with livelihoods and also impacted on the environment and climate change – and vice versa. read more.
15:33:51 local time BANGLA DESH
* 1 Year Later, Murderer of Aminul Islam Still Free:
April 4, 2013—The Solidarity Center and the international worker rights movement are commemorating Bangladesh union leader Aminul Islam, who was brutally murdered one year ago today. His murderer or murderers remain at large.
Aminul, 39, was a plant-level union leader at an export processing zone in Bangladesh, an organizer for the Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS), and president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation’s (BGIWF) local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka. He and his wife had three children.
In November, investigation of his murder was transferred to the Bangladesh Criminal Investigation Department, a move demanded by the Committee for Justice for Aminul Islam, of which the Solidarity Center is a founding member. To date, no arrests have been made.
“Aminul gave his life trying to achieve justice for millions of Bangladesh workers,” says Solidarity Center Asia Director Tim Ryan. “Yet the Bangladesh government has not expressed urgency in bringing justice to Aminul and his suffering family by identifying, locating and prosecuting those who murdered him.” read more.
* B’desh ‘ensures US$1bn RMG export’ to Canada:
Bangladesh’s extensive diplomatic efforts and constant lobbying have helped ensure the export of one billion dollar readymade garments (RMG) export to Canada, and paved the smooth way for future export, said an official release on Thursday.
Canadian Parliament has recently decided to amend the relevant criteria in review of the General Preferential Tariff (GPT) and the Rules of Origin.
This important decision has culminated into a safeguard for the existing one-billion dollar export from Bangladesh to Canada and future growth in the apparel sector.
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* PM calls for more Chinese investments:
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday sought more Chinese investments in Bangladesh for narrowing the trade gap between the two friendly countries.
‘We’ll welcome Chinese investment in the country, especially in textiles, agro-processing, energy and power, pharmaceuticals, communications and infrastructure development. This will reduce the trade gap between the two countries,’ she said when Chinese ambassador in Dhaka Li Jun called on the prime minister at her office.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Small, medium industries growing in Khulna region:
The investment in small and medium industries sectors of Khulna region has been increased significantly. About Tk. 12.30 billion has been invested in industrial and service sectors of Khulna region during the 2005-2012 period, investment board sources said.
Source said that once upon a time jute industry was the main foreign currency earning sector of the region. Khulna Newsprint Mill, Hard Board Mill, Khulna Textile Mill, Dada Match Factory, People’s Jute Mill, Star Jute Mill, Crescent Jute Mill, Platinum Jute Mill were the main productive units of the area. But now the scenario of the region has changed. At present small and medium industries have developed in this region including cement factory, shrimp processing units, plastic, rice mill, medicine, brick, furniture etc.
According to Investment Board about Tk. 12.30 billion have been invested in above sectors in Khulna region during the period of 2005 to 2012. Moreover, investment has also started to increase in jute sector as the authority has also approved some jute mills in this area. read more.
15:03:51 local time INDIA
* CITU meet underscores continued unity of TUs:
The 14th national conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) got under way here on Thursday with a note of unity in the trade union fraternity, with trade union leaders representing diverse political and ideological shades who participated in the inaugural session affirming their commitment to continuing the joint struggle regardless of which party or combination of parties was in power.
The refrain of the trade union leaders who addressed the session of the five-day conference that began here at the ‘Comrade M.K. Pandhe Nagar’ at the Police Maidan here was the need of continued unity among fraternal trade union organisations at a time when the democratic rights of the working class was under attack.
The inaugural address by CITU president A.K. Padmanabhan set the tone of unity for the entire session by stating that the two-day general strike in February last that created a new history in the trade union movement in the country was possible because of the unity of all the major trade unions.
Stressing the need of the unity to defend the workers’ right to collective bargaining now being taken away, the CITU president said that the trade unions had decided to write to the Prime Minister to urge upon him to respond to the demands of the working class and to take the initiative to have a serious discussion with the trade unions on issues such as minimum wage, ‘contractisation’ of labour and job security, among others.
“The fruit of growth has not reached the ordinary worker as it has been taken away by the upper crust,” he said adding that the united struggle had made the multinational corporations to come to terms with the demands of the working class.
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* CITU calls for a mass movement against Centre:
Solidarity with the struggles of the working people everywhere in the world.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has called upon trade unions and mass organisations to channelise the anger of the deprived masses into a powerful movement against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that is pursuing neoliberal policies.
Inaugurating the five-day 14th national conference of the CITU here on Thursday in which 2,000 delegates from different parts of the country were attending, CITU president A.K. Padmanabhan said the Central government being one of the largest employers was also one of the worst violators of labour laws and regulations. Over one crore people, mainly women, were working in various government schemes such as Anganwadis without being recognised as workers.
The Union Budget had completely ignored the major problems confronting the people, namely price, unemployment and growing inequalities. The pro-rich bias was clearly visible in the budget which provided sops to the corporates, while it failed to increase public expenditure, he said.
Expressing solidarity with the struggles of the working people everywhere in the world experiencing the impact of austerity measures and increasing disparities, Mr. Padmanabhan said that the situation in Latin America was a major exception to the world trend of disparities. He paid tributes to the role of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for working out alternative policies. read more.
* Govt hikes support price for jute:
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a Rs 100/quintal hike in minimum support price for raw jute on Tuesday. However, it deferred key decisions relating to sugar decontrol and reduction of subsidies for non-urea fertilisers.
The decisions were deferred by the Cabinet panel since Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is away in Tokyo to attract foreign investments.
The support price for jute for the 2013-14 season for TD-5 grade or the main grade is approved at Rs 2,300 a quintal across the country. This represents an increase of Rs 100 a quintal over the MSP announced by the Government for the last season, an official statement said. read more.
* Tirupur exporters heave a sigh of relief with new order flows:
After contracting during the last three years, the Rs 20,000 crore textile industry at Tirupur, knitwear hub of India, has reported a growth in exports in the first three months of 2013.
The industry has attributed the growth to new markets that were explored in the last 10-12 months. Meanwhile, labour and power shortages are going to be major obstacles, say industry representatives.
Exporters from this tiny town, about 450 km from Chennai, said the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is expected to be signed with the European Union anytime, will help them compete with Bangladesh, which is now enjoying the duty free benefit.
* Exporters seek simplification of drawback schedule:
A section of knitwear exporters in Tirupur knitwear cluster who met the members of Duty Drawback Committee, set up by Union Ministry for Finance, here, have sought simplification of the drawback schedule and an upward revision in the drawback rates for apparels.
The Duty Drawback Committee chairman, Saumitra Chaudhari, and a few other members came to the cluster on Wednesday evening as part of the exercise initiated by the Union Finance Ministry for fixing the All Industry Rates (AIR) of Duty Drawback for 2013-14 financial year. Sources said AIR was worked out by considering the consumption of input materials/services and the incidence of customs and central excise duties and service tax on such materials/services.
* GM’s success stories are overdone:
Contrary to what the industry claims, the spread and benefits of genetically modified crops are far from robust
The biotechnology industry’s annual report “Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops: 2012” by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), which hailed biotechnology as the “fastest adopted crop technology” is facing emerging contentions that it has misrepresented and drastically overestimated its figures.
South Africa’s genetically modified (GM) crop area, according to the ISAAA report, increased by a record 26 per cent or 600,000 hectares over the last one year. The African Centre for Biosafety, however, has pointed out that “the ISAAA in its desperate attempt to bolster the popularity of GM crops in the media has overestimated the spread of GM crops in South Africa by a staggering 400 per cent! According to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the combined maize and soybean cultivation in South Africa increased by less than 150,000 ha over the stated period and the area planted with GM cotton has declined by 3,000 ha”. read more.
* ‘To stay thin, models eat tissue paper, beat hunger’:
The former editor-in chief of Vogue Australia has penned a scathing book about her time in fashion industry, in which she claims the pressure on models to stay thin is so intense that some women eat tissue paper to stave off hunger pangs.
Kirstie Clements, who was sacked last May after 25 years with the magazine, 13 of them as editor, makes the claim in her book ‘The Vogue Factor’ .
Among the stories she recounts is that of a three-day Vogue shoot in Marrakesh during which the top model did not eat a single meal. By the final day, she writes, the woman could barely stand up or keep her eyes open. read more.
15:03:51 local time SRI LANKA
* Footwear assembling a threat to leather industry:
Sri Lanka’s footwear and leather (F&L) sector is being threatened and compromised by the emerging ‘footwear assembly sector’, a government minister told industry body recently.
“Our average annual national production of footwear alone is over 30 million pairs at a value of US$ 47 million. Our footwear and leather value addition is around 45% and in 2012 we exported US$ 31 million footwear and leather to global markets,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen. read more.
14:33:51 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Need to enhance bilateral trade between Saarc states’:
Former Advisor to Prime Minister on Textile and Chairman Baig Group, Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig has said that with the annual 20 per cent increase of the manufacturing cost and wages in China, China will be uncompetitive in exports of garments in next 3 to 4 years leaving a huge pie of more than $200 billion per annum for countries like Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh in our region likewise Japan and Korea who eventually switched from textile to high tech industries.
Speaker at South Asia Strategic Leadership Summit 2013 held in Karachi to find ways and means to improve economic, social and political relationship among the regional countries, he explained that there was the time when China was the biggest competitor of Pakistan in cotton yarn and today China is the biggest buyer of Pakistan cotton yarn, similarly now China is also buying denim and grey fabric for manufacturing garments from Pakistan. read more.
* Dr Baig for enhancing regional trade:
Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, former adviser to PM on Textile and Chairman Baig Group, has emphasised the need to enhance regional trade, particularly in textile sector, for which a great potential exists.
He was speaking at the South Asia Strategic Leadership Summit 2013 here to find ways and means to improve economic, social and political relationship among the regional countries, says a press release.
Dr Baig said that the world’s most successful trade model is the regional trade. “Nafta have more than 60% trade among their member countries, European Union 53% and Asean 26% whereas our South Asian block Saarc only has 5% trade among our region countries.” read more.
* FBR’s shortcomings cause APTMA to pay Rs 4bn in taxes:
* Protest against loadshedding:
Dozens of factory owners led their workers to the street against loadshedding at front of Lahore Press Club on Thursday.
Amid the Wapda statement that the electricity shortfall was standing around 3,000MW, which meant for six to eight hours average shutdown across the country, the protestors were complaining that they were facing around 14 hours load shedding on daily basis.
They blocked the road for traffic for an hour and shouted slogans against the electricity managers and the government. They said the industries were destroying and hundreds of daily workers became jobless due to power shutdown. They demanded of the Lesco for decreasing the load shedding duration for industry and stop unscheduled load shedding. read more.
* Trade unions ask political parties to include labour rights in their manifestos:
Trade unions have decided to pitch their demands to political parties ahead of the general elections, asking them to include labour rights in their manifestos.
On Thursday afternoon trade unionists and civil society members gathered at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) office to iron out a plan to remind political parties about the plight of the working class. Prof. Mutahir Ahmed, Karachi University Teachers Association’s president and an HRCP member, headed the meeting.
Sheikh Majeed of Pakistan International Airline’s (PIA) trade union read out a 22-point letter which has been sent to political parties, asking them to make it a part of their manifestos. It said that each month, unskilled labourers should be paid Rs25, 000 and skilled workers should get a salary equivalent to the cost of 1 tola of gold.
The letter also stated that appointment notices should be issued for workers in the private, formal and informal sectors. EOBI, Workers Welfare Board and Workers Welfare Fund should be shifted from the federal level to the provinces, said the letter. The unionists have also asked for separate seats in the national and provincial assemblies to be reserved for labourers.
The government should specify a method and form a separate body at national and provincial level for paying compensation to those affected by catastrophes and riots, added the letter.
* The political minimum:
The issue of raising minimum wage hit the headlines recently with the announcement of election manifestos by different parties. All of them promised a substantial increase in the minimum wage if they came into power.
However, this promise does not reflect a sound thinking along economic lines; rather, it’s an attempt to garner votes of the low income workers, who constitute the largest number of registered voters.
Why exactly does a government decide to step in the business of minimum wage? The major argument in this regard rests upon helping the poor and reducing poverty, with reduction in income inequalities being another objective. There are examples where governments have decreed increase in minimum wages, and the ensuing effects have been positive. But it’s not always the case. read more.
* Global risk from trade wars: time to get back to Doha:
Singapore recently played host to the 16th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) membership talks. Soon after, Japan announced plans to join the TPP. The next round of talks in May will be held in Peru, and optimistic negotiators say that member countries are on track to reach an accord by the end of the year.
The recent proliferation of regional free trade agreements (FTAs) spells good news for the parties involved. But it is important that they do not become substitutes for a global solution in world trade. There remains a need for global rules to provide stability in world trade, given that the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) long-running Doha trade negotiations are deadlocked amid increasing global protectionism. A global problem needs a global solution, and the Doha Round needs to get back on track with ministerial conferences.
Strict US rules of origin for textile and apparel manufacturers in East Asia undermine efficient regional supply chains, as they prevent manufacturers from sourcing components from other countries in the region. The US requires that clothing be wholly or substantially produced in the exporting country, whereas liberal rules of origin would allow East Asian economies exporting clothing to the US to include components from different countries in the region.
Instead of Vietnam or Malaysia creating a yarn manufacturing industry, US negotiating strategies privilege American yarn exports to the region. Relaxing these rules of origin would improve the integrated supply chains in industries such as clothing and apparel manufacturing. Some bilateral and plurilateral trading agreements suffer from the “noodle” or “spaghetti bowl” phenomenon, where there are overlapping rules and difficulties in exercising the benefits from successful negotiations. SMEs do not have the capacity to monitor the different rules of origin in each FTA, and cannot take advantage of the negotiated benefits. read more.
* Asia soaring wages mean rising prices worldwide:
Koda Ltd. Executive Director Ernie Koh has a message for clients in 50 countries, who complain about the Singapore-based furniture maker’s first price increase in two years: Take it or leave it.
Koda’s factories in China, Malaysia and Vietnam are battling rising costs as governments in Asia increase minimum wages to curb discontent over a widening wealth gap. While weak global growth and increased competition limited the ability of producers to raise prices during the past five years, Koh says they can’t go on absorbing the additional expenses.
“We aren’t even passing on the full costs,” said Koh, who counts US retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc., owner of Pottery Barn, and Cost Plus Inc. among customers.
“Wage escalation in China these past few years has been crazy. We have collective bargaining with the union in Vietnam, and in Malaysia there is a big outcry among manufacturers over the minimum wage.” read more.