* ASEAN-Wide talks on TPP pushed:
American companies doing businesses in ASEAN have strongly urged the US government to conclude Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations with ASEAN by late 2013 in an effort to strengthen its presence in the world’s fastest growing region in what seemed to be a race against China whose Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) initiative, which is seen moving quicker in ASEAN than TPP.
“Complete the ambitious TPP negotiations by late 2013,” stated the US-ASEAN Business Council in its “Statement of Priorities Policy Paper -2013” recognizes ASEAN’s growing importance to U.S. businesses and lays out actions that need to be taken within a five-year period to ensure continuing success for U.S. business in Southeast Asia.
Developed by a committee of senior executives, along with the support of three former U.S.Ambassadors to ASEAN countries, the paper focuses on the fundamental need to address constraints on expanding two-way trade and investment flows through a set of coordinated actions by the U.S. business community, the U.S. government, and ASEAN nations that will reinforce the U.S.-ASEAN relationship and encourage shared growth in the years ahead. The paper focuses on the most vital priorities for US business in ASEAN, including the desire for higher-level engagement, the importance of greater ease in travel between the US and ASEAN, and the need for the US to articulate a clear strategy for creating a free trade agreement that includes all 10 ASEAN nations.
16:57:41 local time VIET NAM
* TAL plans major textile plant in Vietnam:
Hong Kong-based apparel manufacturer TAL Group plans to boost investment in Vietnam with its second project in the field of textile, dyeing and garment worth hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.
Roger Lee, CEO of TAL Group, revealed this plan at a meeting with leaders of the Ministry of Planning and Investment this Wednesday.
TAL currently has 25,000 workers at eight factories worldwide. The Hong Kong clothing producer came to Vietnam in 2004 to set up the US$40-million textile-garment factory Viet My (TAV Limited) in Phuc Khanh Industrial Park in Thai Binh Province, where more than 3,000 workers are working.
TAL intends to open a second factory in Vietnam with an estimated investment of US$200 million in the first phase. The plant will apply modern and environmentally friendly technology.
16:57:41 local time CAMBODIA
* Ex-governor sentenced for Puma factory shootings:
Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith was found guilty Tuesday morning of unintentional violence in the February 2012 shooting of three protesting garment workers and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Svay Rieng Provincial Court presiding judge Leang Sour also ordered Bandith to pay compensation totaling 38 million riel ($9,500) to the three victims.
Unintentional violence charges against Bavet town criminal police chief, Sar Chantha, were dropped, though the officer was found guilty of illegal weapons use. He was fined 1 million riel ($250) and sentenced to six months’ probation.
Buot Chenda, Keo Near and Nuth Sakhorn were shot during a violent protest last year at Puma supplier Kaoway Sports factory. The three women were among more than 6,000 workers from the Manhattan Special Economic Zone calling for better working conditions.
* Court orders arrest of Chhouk Bandith after conviction:
Svay Rieng Provincial Court announced its verdict Tuesday sentencing Chhouk Bandith, former Bavet governor, to one year and six months in prison.
Chhouk Bandith, whose hearing started on June 12, was found guilty of seriously injuring three women when he opened fire on protestors in Bavet last year.
After announcing their verdict, the court issued a written statement for the arrest of Chhouk Bandith and police officer Sor Chantha who had also been sentenced to six months in the same case for illegal possession of a weapon.
“After the verdict announcement, the court has ordered the arrest of the two accused,” said judge Leang Suor.
The court also ordered Chhouk Bandith to pay 38 million riel in compensation to the three victims, Bun Chenda, Nuth Sakhorn and Keo Nea.
17:57:41 local time INDONESIA
* No salary increase until next year:
15:57:41 local time BANGLADESH
* Bangladeshi factory deaths spark action among high-street clothing chains:
After April’s disaster at Rana Plaza, retailers are finally signing up to international safety rules and giving money to enforce them Western clothing retailers were inevitably going to face questions over the link between cheap fashion and worker safety in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster, which killed 1,129 people in Bangladesh, reports the Guardian.
In a stark reminder of the human cost behind the plentiful supply of affordable goods on Britain’s high streets, shoddy construction turned a building in Dhaka into a death trap when a garment manufacturing complex collapsed in April. It also threatened to damage the reputation of Primark, which got some of its cheap chic from the building.
As the retailer’s head of ethical trading, Katherine Kirk has spent four years overhauling how Primark finds its clothes and denies a causal link between discount goods, tight profit margins and perilous working conditions in the developing world.
* Aminul Islam, Murdered Bangladeshi Labor Activist, Still Without Justice 14 Months After Death:
Less than a day after discovering his mutilated body, Bangladeshi police buried labor activist Aminul Islam some 60 miles from his home. They didn’t wait to consult with Islam’s family before putting him in the ground.
Islam, a paid organizer with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), an ally of Western labor rights groups, had gone missing soon after leaving his office in the town of Ashulia, 25 miles from the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, on April 4, 2012.
More than a year later, the Bangladeshi government, still without anyone in custody for Islam’s murder, has named a suspect in the case and announced a reward of roughly $1,300 for anyone who could help bring the man to justice.
The pronouncement comes as the government faces renewed criticism at home and abroad over dangerous and inhumane working conditions in the world’s third-largest garment manufacturing sector. In the absence of trade unions, Bangladesh authorities have generally turned a blind eye to workplace safety during the country’s stratospheric rise in the world clothing trade.
* Bangladesh BOI clears $42mn foreign loan for textile firms:
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Update from Rana Plaza: “How Will I Raise My Children?” :
Today marks two months since the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. Bodies, lives, hearts ─ broken by the quest for ever-greater corporate profits.
Charlie and I just spent two weeks in Bangladesh doing all we could to support local activists and to get an in-depth picture of real conditions on the ground from partners including the Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation, the National Garment Workers Federation and Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, with whom the Institute has partnered for over a decade.
Soon after the collapse, we asked you to join us in creating the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund. The expert on-the-ground knowledge of Federation leaders has enabled us to use your donations to this fund to help the injured and hospitalized. To date, the Fund has raised approximately $21,000 toward our goal of $50,000. Every penny has gone to workers in dire need. But they still need your help.
On our trip we heard the stories of workers like Moyna, who described lying trapped under a fallen pillar until she was rescued more than a day after the building’s collapse. Today, she still cannot walk without help and worries that she may never be able to earn a living again.
15:27:41 local time INDIA
Over 300 members of the Small Powerloom Medical Cloth Manufacturers Association at Sathirapatti near Rajapalayam courted arrest here on Monday.
Powerloom workers had been on strike since May 4 demanding a hike in their wages following the expiry of the three-year agreement.
There are about 600 powerlooms manufacturing surgical gauze and surgical bandage cloth in and around Rajapalayam. About 10 units have been engaged in export while 90 others have been involved in distribution of the same to several States in the country. While the strike by the workers came to an end, the manufacturers demanded increase in payment from companies that engage them for the work.
* Apparel exporters see another threat:
When all focus is on plummeting rupee against dollar, another major threat is looming large over apparel exporters here that in the form of heavy depreciation in the local currencies of certain foreign countries in emerging market that source apparels from India in ‘US dollars’.
This monetary scenario’s cascading effect is that the profitability of apparel exports from India had started affecting severely as the overseas buyers from such countries, where local currencies are falling, demand heavy reduction in garment prices to offset the shelling of more local currencies to buy dollars for purchasing garments from India.
“Already, apparel importers from countries like South Africa, where the local currency Rand has depreciated sharply against US dollar, have carried out heavy negotiations with few exporters here and managed to get discounts up to six per cent even on the ‘orders under process/execution’ leave alone fresh orders,” R. Girish, an apparel exporter and founder-member of Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association, pointed out.
* Global cotton supply will meet demand through 2020: Report:
The global production of cotton will substantially support the global mill use consumption from 2012 through 2020, and the total supply will be able to meet the demand for cotton.
The global consumption of cotton will be more from 2013 through 2020, and the demand to supply share will increase from 75.16 percent in 2012 to 86.75 percent in 2020, predicts “Global Cotton Supply & End Use Demand: Trends & Forecasts 2013”, a report prepared by the Market Watch division of Fibre2fashion.com.
Steep increase in global mill use of cotton and moderate hike in cotton exports is foreseen from 2012 to 2020, says the report.
* South Indian hosiery makers seek ban on cotton exports:
15:27:41 local time SRI LANKA
* China to open doors to Lanka’s apparel sector:
Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is to get a big boost as the world’s largest textile producer, China is exploring possibilities of opening its huge domestic market to the island’s garment exports, an industry heavyweight said.
Secretary General of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) M.P. Tuly Cooray told the Business Times that their umbrella body is to enter into an agreement with the China National Garment Association to allow access for Sri Lankan apparel industrialists to penetrate the Chinese domestic market and also set up joint ventures to produce internationally branded products for overseas markets.
A high-powered, 20-member delegation from the Chinese association visited Sri Lanka recently and held preliminary discussions towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) enabling Chinese apparel makers and top global retailers to shift their orders to Sri Lanka due to the rising labour cost in that country, he revealed.
He noted that they aim to get duty free access for apparel from Chinese authorities through another MOU recently signed between China and Sri Lanka to improve and strengthen bi-lateral economic relations between the two countries, particular on trade investment and tourism.
14:57:41 local time PAKISTAN
* Fire: Three injured in boiler blast:
Three factory workers were injured on Monday when a boiler exploded at a textile factory. They were taken to Civil Hospital, where two of them were reported to be in critical condition.
Rescue officials said the boiler was run on coal due to gas loadshedding. They said fire started by the burning coals following the explosion in which three workers- identified as Khalil, Iftikhar and Yameen- were injured. They were taken to the hospital, where doctors treating them said that Khalil and Iftikhar were in a critical condition. They were later referred to a hospital in Lahore. The fire was put out in two hours.
Police visited the factory, but registered no case.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the owner of the factory said this was the way most textile mills were producing gas. He said if there were safer ways of generating steam, the government should introduce them. Else, he said, it should consider reducing loadshedding hours.