20:16:51 local time NORTH KOREA
* N.K. halts Gaeseong operations, says will withdraw its workers:
North Korea said Monday that it would pull out all of its workers from the inter-Korean industrial complex in its border city of Gaeseong, jeopardizing the last remaining symbol of bilateral economic cooperation.
Kim Yang-gon, the North’s ruling Workers’ Party’s secretary in charge of South Korean affairs, said the communist state would tentatively put operation at the complex on hold and consider whether or not to scrap it.
“How the situation will develop in the future will entirely depend on the South Korean government’s attitude,” he said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korea Central News Agency.
Since last Wednesday, Pyongyang has blocked the entry of South Korean workers and cargo to the complex where some 54,000 North Koreans work for 123 South Korean firms in the labor-intensive industries such as textiles, clothing and electronic parts. read more.
* NKorea workers fail to turn up at Kaesong:
More than 50,000 North Koreans usually work at Kaesong
North Korean employees have not reported for work at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, suspending one of the few points of cooperation between North and South Korea.
More than 120 South Korean companies operate in Kaesong, which is located inside North Korea.
About 53,000 North Korean workers are employed there.
It is the latest in a stream of provocations that have raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“As of now, no North Korean workers have reported to work this morning,” a spokesperson for the South Korean Unification Ministry said. read more.
18:16:51 local time VIET NAM
* Factory gutted:
Photo coutersy of Viet Nam Government Portal
A blaze destroyed a garment workshop belonging to Ha Phong Garment Export Joint Stock Company in northern Bac Giang Province’s Hiep Hoa District on Saturday.
Around 2,000 motorbikes and bicycles belonging to workers were also destroyed in the fire. Local authorities and the company plan to compensate the vehicles’ owners for their losses. No human losses were reported. Local firefighters put out the blaze after four hours. to read.
18:16:51 local time THAILAND
* Free Somyot- Campaign continues:
Here is a VIDEO of local activists campaigning for Somyot’s release.
* Signs of progress as FTA talks loom:
Thai, EU trade officials still seeking more input
The European Commission will begin a week-long free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation with Thailand in Brussels in late May, the first round of official talks, with the hope of reaching an agreement in 18 months.
Over that period, working groups of technical experts are scheduled to meet two or three times after the first round starts on May 27, while ministers will meet at least once a year, said EU Ambassador David Lipman.
A Thai-EU FTA, formally launched during Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit to Brussels last month, would cover trade in goods and services, investment and economic cooperation in 17 areas. read more.
19:16:51 local time MALAYSIA
* Textile Factory Suffers RM1.2 Million Losses In Fire:
A textile factory in the Kulim industrial area here incurred losses of RM1.2 million in a fire early this morning.
Kulim Fire and Rescue Department officer Mustafa Abdullah said the building was saved from much worse damage as a result of the quick response of 11 firemen.
Several machines worth millions of ringgit and dozens of fabric rolls which were ready to be distributed for the market were also saved by the firemen, he said.
“We received an emergency call at 5.30am. Two fire engines arrived at the scene at 5.47am and succeeded in controlling the fire from spreading 30 minutes later.
“The fire was fully extinguished by 7.30am and no casualties were reported in the incident,” he told Bernama when contacted here, today.
Mustafa, who headed the operation, said according to initial assessments by the owner of the factory (First Tex Knitting Sdn Bhd), the fire caused losses totalling about RM1.2 million as one of the textile drying machines was destroyed in the incident.
The cause of the fire was still being investigated, he said. to read.
17:16:51 local time BANGLA DESH
* DEPZ factory shut amid protests:
Workers held demonstrations at Ashilia as a garment factory in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone at Ashulia of Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, was shut down on Monday.
The workers continued demonstrations protesting at the termination of fellow workers pressing for five-point demand including salary hike and job security.
The Grameen Knit Wear Ltd authorities at DEPZ closed the factory in the morning to avoid any untoward incidents.
The factory sources said the workers started their demonstrations and strike in March, pressing their demands. read more.
* Unruly people during hartal attack 70 Gazipur factories: BGMEA, BKMEA:
The country’s apparel sector trade bodies -– BGMEA and BKMEA — on Monday claimed that some ‘unruly’ people attacked 60-70 garment factories in Gazipur during the hartal hours and forced the workers to stay out of their workplaces.
“It’s a conspiracy to destabilise the RMG industry although it was out of the hartal purview. BGMEA and BKMEA strongly condemn the attacks,” the trade bodies said in a joint statement.
They urged the authorities concerned to launch a fair investigation into the incidents and bring those involved in the attacks under the ambit of law.
They said the unruly people during the hartal prevented some 1.20 lakh workers from joining their works. read more. & read more.
* BGMEA, BKMEA condemns attack on garment factories:
The leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) today condemned when some political activists attacked on the factories on Sunday while Hefazat-e-Islam enforced by dawn-to dusk hartal on Monday.
The BGMEA and BKMEA also expressed their deep concern as the activists carried out attack on the garment factories located from Gazipur to Mouchak near the capital and they were resists the workers.
They also forced to bring the workers outside of the factories, an association press release said. read more. & read more.
* RMG export threatened:
Economists have voiced concerns over a stiff slide in GDP growth this fiscal due to continued violence, hartal and political uncertainty affecting all economic fronts.
They said the annual GDP growth was 6.0 per cent on an average for over the last few years, but it is going to slump this time below 6.0 per cent.
The target this year was 7.2 per cent but actually it may hover around 5.5 per cent, analysts said.
This is an unusual development and if the trend continues, it may bring “disastrous impact” on the national economy, they added.
“The national economy is crawling towards a severe contraction owing to various external and internal factors like restive political programmes,” Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former adviser of the caretaker government told The New Nation yesterday.
* Apparel exporters demand tax cut at source:
Garment manufacturers and exporters on Monday demanded that the National Board of Revenue should reduce the tax at source for export-oriented industries in the upcoming national budget to 0.50 per cent from the existing 0.80 per cent considering global recession and political instability in the country.
At a pre-budget discussion with the NBR, leading associations of exporters also demanded extension of bond licence auditing interval from two years which is now done every year and increase of time for submission of audit documents to six months from the existing three months.
As a part of revenue budget preparation for the fiscal year of 2013-2014, the NBR discussed with exporters under bonded warehouse facility, paper, printing, publishing, cinema and advertising sector on the day at its conference room with NBR chairman Ghulam Hussain in the chair. read more.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* CAMPAIGN FOR COMPENSATION- Tazreen fire survivor going to US:
A survivor of Tazreen Fashions fire, Sumi Abedin, is going to the USA this week to urge companies whose goods were being made in the factory to compensate the victims.
She will join with the labour-rights activists and union groups and stage demonstration in front of the corporate headquarters of companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Walt Disney Co, reports The Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, the effort is a part of a growing campaign by labour-rights activists to make public what they say are poor working conditions at overseas factories producing clothing for US consumers.
Labour groups say that the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh government have begun paying some of the Tazreen workers and their families but that companies haven’t compensated workers and families for their losses.
Although products made for Wal-Mart were found at the scene of the fire, the company said its suppliers were not authorised to produce clothing there.
* Compensation deal for Tazreen workers- Apr 15 meet in Geneva receives poor response from buyer cos:
A meeting by workers rights group scheduled for April 15 in Geneva has received poor response from the buyer companies, said an online agency.
The group ‘IndustriALL Global Union’ had convened the meeting to discuss a universal compensation agreement for the Tazreen Fashions’ workers, the online.wsj.com said Monday.
“Few retailers have responded to the invitation,” the report said adding that many of the retailers have declined to comment on compensation packages.
Although products made for Wal-Mart were found at the scene of the fire, the company has said its suppliers weren’t authorized to produce clothing there. Disney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A Wal-Mart spokesperson declined to comment directly on the compensation paid to workers of the Tazreen Fashions plant, where 112 people died last November. The company is “focused on investing our resources in proactive programmes that will address fire safety in the garment and textile industry in Bangladesh and prevent fires before they happen,” she said.
Labour groups say that the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh government have begun paying compensation to some of the Tazreen workers and their families but Tazreens’ retailers haven’t compensated workers and families for their losses. read more.
16:46:51 local time INDIA
* Indian cotton ginners look west for better technical know-how:
In a bid to become competitive in international markets and improve margins, ginners from India are turning to the West for superior technical know-how and better production practices.
Leading Indian cotton ginning and spinning companies will discuss advanced ginning and spinning practices with their American counterparts at the International Cotton Summit in Ahmedabad on April 9 and 10.
“The lack of access to better technology has resulted in small and medium players producing inferior-quality cotton and yarn. India’s spinning and ginning industry is facing global competition. We need technical upgradation by engaging with global players,” said Anand Popat, secretary of the Saurashtra Cotton Ginners Association.
16:16:51 local time PAKISTAN
* MinTex, ILO trained people on knitwear, cotton picking:
Ministry of Textile Industry (MinTex) in collaboration with International Labor Organization (ILO) organized a five-day training workshop for knitwear industry and cotton picking to promote and develop the local industry.
Aim of the event was to introduce international best practices for capacity building and recognize standards for different stakeholders to make the products competitive in local as well as international markets, said Cotton Development Commissioner in MinTex, Dr. Khalid Abdullah.
Talking to media, he said that MinTex joined hands with ILO for developing competency standards for textile value chain and clean cotton picking to promote local textile industry to enhance textile exports as well as raw cotton from the country. read more.
* Punjab industry suffers over 12 hours power outages:
Textile manufacturers have strongly protested against the injudicious distribution of electricity and gas supply, calling for an equitable supply, as Punjab industry was suffering at least 12 hours power load shedding and four-day gas suspension.
Punjab alone should not be made sole victim of power and gas shortage, rather it should be shared amongst all the federating units, demanded All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) central Chairman Ahsan Bashir during a press conference.
APTMA chairman maintained the textile industry in Punjab has incurred huge production losses since disconnection of electricity and gas supply.
He said textile industry in Punjab was losing millions of rupees a day due to capacity closure. The uncertainty level is on the rise and the industry is suffering badly due to its bad image on delivery of foreign orders. read more.
* Power supply: APTMA chief dismayed at unilateral disconnection:
Chairman, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Ahsan Bashir, has expressed dismay over the unilateral disconnection of electricity supply to the textile industry on independent feeders by the Ministry of Water & Power.
He was addressing a hurriedly called press conference at APTMA Punjab office on Monday. Vice Chairman APTMA, Wisal Monnoo and others were also present on the occasion.
He said that the minister and secretary Water & Power had no idea as how to manage energy shortage. Instead of taking measures to increase production of electricity, they have resorted to curtailment of power supply even to export-oriented industry, he added. The ministry failed to manage the available power of 8000MW by first denying electricity to the domestic consumers and now to the textile industry within eight days of the present set up. read more. & read more.
* APTMA blames ministry for power supply cut:
The Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Ahsan Bashir, has expressed dismay over the unilateral disconnection of electricity supply to the textile industry on independent feeders introduced by the Ministry of Water & Power, says a press release.
He said the minister and secretary water & power had no idea as to how to manage the energy shortage. Instead of increasing the production of electricity, they had resorted to curtailment of electricity supply even to export-oriented the industry.
* PTEA seeks release of stuck-up refunds:
Major working capital of textile exporters has been stuck-up in local taxes drawback and custom rebate refund regimes which is jeopardising the country’s exports and adversely hitting the national economy, said Asghar Ali, Chairman and Muhammad Asif, Vice Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) in a statement here on Monday.
Expressing grave concern, they said that huge amounts of textile exporters had been stuck-up in refund regimes as the government was not releasing funds for payment of exporter’s claims creating difficulties in business flow and hampering the export growth and turn over. Elaborating they said, the local taxes drawback scheme was initiated to boost national exports and the results were visible in export sector performance. read more. & read more.
* Textile industry running short of working capital:
Textile exporters claim that a major chunk of their working capital has been stuck in claims for tax and duty refund, which is jeopardising the country’s exports and hurting the national economy.
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Chairman Asghar Ali and Vice Chairman Muhammad Asif expressed concern over blocking of funds, saying the government was not releasing the money to clear the refund claims.
The tax drawback scheme was initiated to boost exports and the results were visible in the performance of exporters, they said in a statement.
Total exports in 2009-10 rose to about $19 billion from $17 billion in the preceding year. Next year, exports climbed to $24.8 billion, which they said clearly supported the argument that if the exporters were facilitated they would produce good results.