08:04:38 local time VIET NAM
* New cotton plant will aid garments sector:
Work on construction of the Phu Hung cotton plant will start in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue’s Phu Bai Industrial Park this month.
With a total investment of VND253 billion (US$12 million), the plant is expected to be put into commercial operation in August next year with an annual capacity of 21,600 spools.
Once completed, the plant will generate jobs for 200 workers and produce 100 per cent cotton yarn with average output of 240 tonnes per month.
The development strategy for the garment industry has been approved by the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Industry and Trade for the Central Region, including Quang Nam, Da Nang and Thua Thien-Hue, according to the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).
read more. & read more.
* National wage council established:
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has recently signed a decision to establish the National Wage Council, headed by Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Minh Huan.
The council is in charge of analyzing the country’s socio-economic situation and living standards to identify and forecast the subsistence level of employees and their families.
It is also tasked to evaluate the regional implementation of minimum wage and wage levels in the labor market as well as businesses’ payment capacity in order to develop and suggest the Government on the regional minimum wage annually and periodically.
read more. & read more.
* EU awareness key to export success:
Vietnamese exporters should learn well the new European Union rules relating to the bloc’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in order to extract maximum advantage, experts said at a seminar held in HCM City yesterday.
The seminar, titled “EU’s new regulations on GSP – opportunities for Vietnamese businesses,” informed participants of the new rules and their potential impacts on Viet Nam.
* New EU tariff scheme: opportunities and challenges:
The revised EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme offers lower tariffs, helping goods from developing countries, including Vietnam, gain easier access to the EU market.
These issues were discussed at a recent seminar on the EU’s new GSP rules and opportunities for Vietnam, held in HCM City.
Vietnam is on the list of GSP countries which have seen the number of tax lines enjoying the EU’s generalised scheme of tariff preferences increasing.
The new GSP rules will enter into effect on January 1 next year.
08:04:38 local time LAOS
* Laos moves to reform labour laws:
Experts in Laos are revising the country’s Labour Law to conform to international standards and meet the requirements of the international treaties to which Laos is a party.
Experts from line ministries, the Federation of Trade Unions, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) gathered in Vientiane yesterday for three days of discussions on drafting amendments to the law.
“Aside from responding to the country’s socio-economic and political circumstances, we should think about our obligations to and engagements with the international community when structuring any law,” said Director General of the Department of Labour Management under the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Phongsaysack Inthalath.
08:04:38 local time CAMBODIA
* Asics pays out victims’ families:
Japanese footwear company Asics has agreed to pay the families of two factory workers killed in the Wing Star shoes ceiling collapse on May 16 an undisclosed but “sizeable” amount of compensation, the company and labour groups said on Saturday.
While announcing the payouts – possibly tens of thousands of dollars – Asics Corporation senior executive officer Ron Pietersen also revealed to the Post that a birth certificate listed victim Kim Dany as being only 13 years old, not 15.
“We agreed with all parties concerned that it’s not in the best interests of the families [to reveal the compensation figure]. For us, there’s nothing [financially] to be ashamed of,” Pietersen said.
Pietersen, whose company is the sole buyer from the Wing Star factory in Kampong Speu, called on the government to also “take responsibility” by paying the families of Dany and Rim Roeun, 22, any money they are entitled to under the National Social Security Fund.
read more. & read more.
* Cambodia’s Booming Garment Industry Has Left Workers Behind:
The garment industry has transformed Cambodia’s economy, but factory working conditions remain poor. WSJ reporter Kate O’Keeffe speaks with an employee to see what it’s like.
see more.(video). & read more.
09:04:38 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Update:
1. U.N. Hoping to Expand Fair-Labor Program to Bangladesh. Read the full article here
2. City wants wage rise to reach Rp. 4 Million. Read the full article here.
3. APINDO Criticizes Govt BPJS Health Contribution Announcement.
Read the full article here.
4. Apartments for workers to be ready in January. Read the full article here.
5. Indonesia Inflation Hits 5.90% After Fuel Hike. Read the full article here.
6. Indonesia Manufacturing Growth Slows On Weak Exports. Read the full article here
7. Indonesian Economy Adjusting to Pressures.
Read the full article here
Read the Word Bank full report here
BetterWork Indonesia Overview
07:34:38 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Japanese Firm Closes China Factories, Relocates to Cheaper Rangoon:
Japan is gearing up to make Burma the new sweatshop of Asia, said a report by The Economist citing the case of Famoso Clothing, which is closing its factories in China and moving operations to Rangoon.
Famoso is part of Daiei Ready Made Clothes Corporation, based in the Japanese city of Nagoya, and makes men’s suits for the Japanese market and others.
Until recently, most of its production was at three factories in China, where it employed thousands of workers.
“Three years ago two of the factories in China were closed and the plant in [Rangoon] was rebuilt at a cost of US$7 million to become the company’s new Asia hub,” The Economist reported.
read more in Burma Business Roundup (July 6).
* Foreign investments in garment industry on the rise in Myanmar:
Some foreign countries such as China, Hong Kong , French, Singapore and Japan will operate garment industry including rice and other agricultural with Cutting, Making and Packing(CMP) system in Myanmar, according to Foreign Investment Law.
A Chinese companies such as Jiangsu Solamoda Garments Group Co;Ltd and Dong Fang Star Garment Factory Ltd will carry out the garment industries with CMP system at Shwe Than Lwin industrial zone in Hlaingthayar Township and Halingthayar industrial zone-1.
Hong Kong based companies Kamtex Limited, Richest Time Limited, Sinobest Brothers Ltd and Archid Garment factory Limited will also work garment industry and its related business at industrial zone-1 in Dagon Myothit (South) Township, Mingaladon industrial zone and Shwe Lin Pan industrial zone in Hlaingthayar Township.
07:04:38 local time BANGLADESH
* Women work at risk in RMG sector:
“Mom, I am eagerly waiting to meet you. I will go home in the next Eid-ul-Fitr vacation with your beloved grandson,” Sajeda Begum, 24, who died in the recent Savar Rana plaza collapsed incident, told her mother by mobile phone on April 24.
It was the last conversation of Sajeda in her life with mother, who hailed from Ghuntighar village of Hatibandha in Lalmonirhat district. She died on April 25.
Sajeda’s mother Sufia Begum said, “My daughter told me that she will visit my home after celebrating Eid at her husband’s house at Hatibandha. Alas! my daughter will never come back to my house. I would not see her anymore in my life.”
“Mom, hi mom, where are you? Grandma, please asked our mom just to come out for a while,” another three kids in tears told their grandmother in front of the Rana plaza on April 28. “Don’t cry. Your mother will come after a while,” grandmother consoled them as still then she did not know whether her daughter-in-law was alive.
Salma, who survived after 70 hours trapped under the rubbles of the collapsed building, lying at the Savar Combined Military Hospital becomes anxious remembering the long horrifying moments.
read more. & read more.
* Police foil garment workers’ march:
Police on Friday foiled a procession of garment workers at Purana Paltan area in the capital.
Nearly 200 garment workers under the banner of Bangladesh Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra brought out a procession from the organisation’s office at Comrade Moni Singh Sarak of Purana Paltan.
They demanded an enhancement in their monthly wages to minimum Tk 8000 from the existing Tk 3000, payment of one month’s basic wage as Eid festival bonus before the upcoming Eid and formulation of worker friendly labour laws.
The police cordoned the procession and barred them to advance toward National Press Club where is was supposed to end.
* 400 RMG workers fall sick taking tiffin:
At least 400 workers fell sick after taking tiffin at a garment factory at Telirchala in Mouchak of Kaliakoir upazila on Thursday.
Factory sources said the workers of Sezad Design Wear Limited fell sick after eating foods provided by the factory authorities at 8:30 pm.
A good many of the sick workers were admitted to hospitals in Mouchak, Shafipur, and Konabari with complaints of frequent vomiting.
Affected workers said the food, including one banana, one egg, one patty and one piece of bread for each, provided by the authorities, was inedible and after eating it, many of them fell sick.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Weavers of Chuadanga village in distress:
The weavers of Ershadpur village under Alamdanga upazila of Chuadanga are leading a miserable life.
About 2,300 out of a total of 2,500 handlooms of the village have been shut down. High prices of raw materials like yarns and dyes and lack of patronage are mainly responsible for the declining trend of the once flourishing industry, sources said. According to sources, there were 2,500 handlooms at the village a few years ago.
The people connected with the industry were maintaining their families. But their good days did not last long. At present only 200 handlooms are in operation at the village. The village once pulsating with the sound of looms is now almost silent.
The number of weavers came down to only 200 from 2,500 in the past few months. High quality of lungi and gamsa (napkin) are produced at the village and are sent to the different parts of the country.
The buyers of other districts and upazilas come to Ershadpur for purchasing those items. But due to high prices of raw materials and lack of patronage the weavers have been facing problems.
* Apparel workers may form TUs sans informing owners:
Govt not considering trade unions for EPZs
The government has initiated the process of bringing about necessary changes in the proposed amendment to the labour law to make it time-befitting, aiming to retain the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility in the US market, official sources said.
Inclusion of some provisions like allowing trade unions without informing the apparel factory owners, enhancement of maternity leave and gratuity facilities and sharing profits with the workers in the labour law are under active consideration of the government, they added.
The committee recently held meetings with both labour leaders and garment owners to take their opinions.
“The provision of informing the factory owner about formation of a trade union is likely to be dropped from the existing labour law as there is allegation of sacking or harassment when such a move is taken to form any labour union,” Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan told the FE late this week.
However, the government is not considering allowing trade unions in the Export processing Zones (EPZs), he said adding there is a welfare fund for workers at the EPZs through which they can bargain for their rights.
“We are reviewing the issues related to safety standards and trade unions, profit sharing, maternity leave and gratuity benefits aiming to make the existing law more labour welfare-oriented,” Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar said
* Maintaining labour standards:
The latest government move to re-examine the existing labour law and make a new piece of legislation by parliament, has come in response to demands from different circles.
It has come in the wake of the suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) on Bangladeshi goods by the US administration. Furthermore, it has come at a time when the European Union (EU), which announced its decision about not toeing the US line, has sought a copy of the earlier draft law for scrutiny at a high-level meeting to be held in Geneva on July 08. The meeting will focus on labour rights, safety and health at the workplace and responsible business conduct. The duty- and quota-free access of Bangladesh’s exports, including apparel items, to the EU market has greatly helped the socio-economic development of the country over the years.
In case of the USA, the suspension of the GSP facility does not much affect Bangladesh’s exports of apparels because the latter do not enjoy duty-free market access there.
The non-apparel exports to the US market will be adversely hit by this but such items fetch a very small amount of money, in terms of export receipts, from the USA. Moreover, the USA accounts only for about one-fourth of Bangladesh’s aggregate export earnings in the apparel sector. But earnings from the EU market constitute about 40 per cent of its total export receipts by the sector. Nonetheless, the suspension of the GSP facility for Bangladesh’s exports to the USA has other implications.
* UN hoping to expand fair labour programme in BD:
Better Work, a United Nations programme credited with making some improvements to working conditions in Cambodia’s garment industry could soon open up shop in Bangladesh, where the industry’s worst-ever disaster killed over 1,100 in April, a report published in the Wall Street Journal said Saturday.
The programme run by the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, could start mobilizing operations in Bangladesh within weeks of the conclusion of this month’s parliamentary session there, provided the government succeeds in reforming its labor laws, program manager for Better Work at the IFC Amy Luinstra said.
The highly touted programme monitors factories, publishes reports on its findings and offers training for factories and workers so that they are up to speed on safety and fair-labor standards, it added.
* Many sub-contracting apparel factory owners trying to upgrade compliance:
Many sub-contracting apparel factory owners are rushing to the offices concerned for taking necessary certifications aiming to upgrade their units as compliant ones, following continuous pressure from their mother factories, industry insiders said.
They said the sub-contracting factories — both members and non-members of BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) — have been facing dearth of work as big garment makers, who take work orders directly, are either turning away from the third-parties or are opting for the compliant ones in the face of strict monitoring of safety measures by the buyers.
To become compliant a factory has to acquire at least five certificates like structural design of the building with soil test report, fire safety, group insurance, inter-bond approval both from government and non-government agencies; but most of the sub-contracting factories have no such certifications except trade licence.
* Grameen Uniqlo to develop social business model:
Yukihiro Nitta, chairman of Grameen Uniqlo Ltd, talks about its business plan and social responsibility in a recent interview with New Age. Interviewed by Ahmed Shawki.
New Age: What is the vision of Grameen Uniqlo?
Yukihiro Nitta: Grameen Uniqlo is a clothing company which provides the customers with high quality clothes with affordable prices. We are not a fashion house and do not focus on style statement rather we concentrate on comfortable functional clothes for everyday work. Grameen Uniqlo is a joint venture of Grameen Healthcare Trust and Uniqlo where one per cent share is held by Grameen Healthcare Trust. We want to develop a social business model which will help the people of Bangladesh upgrade their standard of living.
NA: What is the outlook of Japanese investment in the Bangladeshi garment industry after the suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences facilities by the United States in that country?
Nitta: Bangladesh garment industry comes into global concern on workers’ safety after the incidents of Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza collapse. It does not necessarily mean that the country lost its growth prospect in the garment industry. We believe Bangladeshi garments are still very potential and lucrative which moved us to invest $4.6 million in the country recently.
* Environmental standards in RMG:
European Union’s Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hannah said that European Union has provided the best possible market access to Bangladesh for several decades through GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) and a quota free access of its exports as one of the LDCs (less developed countries).
He was speaking as the chief at a workshop on ‘researching and analyzing export market’: connecting exporters with equity and debt financing sources and creating linkages between Bangladeshi exporters and Diaspora communities’ in the city
Deutsche GesellschaftfürInternationale Zusammenarbeit(GIZ) GmbH organized a two-day capacity-building workshop sponsored by International Trade Centre (ITC), Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI)and supported by European Union (EU) on “Researching and Analysing Export Markets”
at the German House recently, said a press release.
William Hannah said ‘first we gave Bangladesh the market access in fullest term, then provided support to improve the trade capacity which we are still providing and finally relaxed the rules of origin for GSP two years ago to make the maximum use of the EBA (Everything But Arms – Duty-free, quota free treatment for all LDCS).”
* BGMEA meeting on architectural design held:
A joint meeting on architectural design of garment factories was held at the office of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on July 4.
Representatives from BGMEA, factory inspection department, ministry of commerce, RAJUK, IEB, IAB, BIP, and BUET attended the meeting, a press release said.
A decision regarding submission of architectural designs of 2,028 garment factories to the Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) for evaluation was taken in the meeting. IEB will inform the BGMEA if any fault is found in any design.
* Buet team finds two risky factory buildings:
The panel inspects 150 buildings in Dhaka and adjacent areas
A panel of experts from Buet has ordered immediate evacuation of two factory buildings as those have been identified to be risky upon inspection.
Of the two, one is a garment factory at Malibagh in the capital and another is a four-storey multi-purpose building, which houses a textile unit, in Manikganj, said a member of the panel of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
The team also recommended four buildings for immediate assessment for strengthening as those have not the risks at the level of immediate evacuation.
The team inspected nearly 150 buildings in Dhaka and its adjacent areas, said Mohammad Mujibur Rahman, head of the panel.
“Most of the buildings have no immediate risks,” Rahman, also the head of the Buet’s civil engineering department, told The Daily Star by phone.
The team also asked owners to conduct a comprehensive test analysis of the buildings within three to six months to diagnose any major risk, he added.
Overloading was the main reason behind the Rana Plaza collapse, Rahman said.
The Buet team released test results for 102 of 150 inspected buildings, while the rest are still underway, said Sekender Ali, a professor of Buet and a coordinator of the panel.
* Labour rights, Workplace Safety – EU for time-bound plans for RMG Sector:
The European Union has suggested time-bound action plans to improve labour rights and factory safety for continuation of existing trade facilities to Bangladeshi exports, including readymade garment.
Officials of commerce and labour ministries told New Age on Saturday that the EU wanted Dhaka to allow trade union in the readymade garment industry in six months.
In what seemed to be an indirect threat, the EU, the largest destination of the country’s exports, recently advised Bangladesh to take appropriate measures for improving workplace safety.
The EU provides GSP facility to Bangladeshi garment helping it to earn about $12 billion last year.
The EU has sent a draft about the future time-bound action plans Bangladesh should take for improvement of labour conditions especially in the fast growing RMG sector.
Dhaka, however, replied that it needed more time than suggested for successful implementation of the measures. The government has recently decided to amend the labour law for allowing RMG sector to unionise.
‘The government wants to gradually implement the measures suggested,’ said labour secretary Mikhail Shiper.He said a team was scheduled to leave the capital for Geneva to work out the issue with the EU trade experts.
* Leaders sceptical of labour law’s intl standard on amendment:
A number of national and international-level labour leaders are in doubts about whether the proposed amendments to the labour law in Bangladesh would be of an internationally accepted standard one or not, in terms of the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, according to sources.
On its part, the government is making its own exercise for revisiting the proposed amendments, before they are placed in parliament for enactment of a new piece of legislation.
The labour leaders and observers have expressed their scepticism as the government has shifted its stances, at different stages, on the recommendations, made by the workers. The recommendations were accepted during the Tripartite Labour Law Review Committee and the Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC) meetings while drafting the amendments to the law.
* Apparel workers demonstrate:
Several hundred workers of Ammazan garment factory staged demonstration in front of the factory in the capital’s Malibagh area on Sunday pressing for immediate payment of their dues, causing huge traffic congestion.
The police controlled the situation at about 3:00pm after the management started distributing wages to the demonstrating workers, said Ramna police duty officer subinspector Humayun Kabir.
Traffic movement was seriously hampered as the protestors blocked the road for an hour, witnesses said.
read more. & read more.
* Bangladesh Safety Accord implementation – moving forward:
The broad coalition of trade unions – led by IndustriALL and UNI – and 70 market leading clothing brands and retailers today announces the next steps to implement the historic Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The signatories to the Accord, IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the over 70 clothing brands and retailers, set themselves a 45 day period to draw up and agree on the implementation plan and 8 July is the deadline. The Accord represents a new era of collaboration and sincere efforts to make the Bangladeshi garment industry safe and sustainable through comprehensive inspections, repairs of factories, training and involvement of workers.
All parties to the five-year binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh are enthused by this milestone and the real work on the ground will begin soon.
* 70 top retailers, unions to inspect Bangladesh factories:
Seventy top retailers have pledged to improve worker safety and allow inspection of all of their garment factories in Bangladesh within nine months under a pact signed with unions after a deadly factory collapse, a statement said Monday.
Repairs and renovations resulting from the inspections will also be carried out, the retailers pledged as part of the legally binding agreement signed in the wake of the April collapse of the Rana Plaza complex, which killed 1,129 people.
“Initial inspections at every factory will be completed at the latest within nine months, and plans for renovations and repairs put in place where necessary,” a statement from the pact’s steering committee said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* EU assures Bangladesh of continuing GSP privileges: BGMEA:
The European Union (EU) assured Bangladesh of not following the United States (US) regarding the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) privileges, said M Atiqul Islam, President of BGMEA.
“GSP is a big challenge for Bangladesh although EU assured us of not following the US about GSP facilities,” Atiqul told a Meet The Press at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) conference room today.
DRU president Shahed Chowdhury and joint secretary Elias Hossain also spoke on the occasion.
Atiqul, however, said the multi-billion dollar readymade Garment (RMG) industry is now passing through a critical juncture as conspiracies both at home and abroad are being hatched in the sector.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* EU to see proper homework, visible dev for getting back GSP benefit:
Bangladesh needs proper homework and to show visible improvements in safety and workers trade union right issues, and address other areas of concern instead of merely giving lip-services to regain suspended GSP benefits in the US market, economists say, reports UNB.
“In the mid-term, we need to do proper homework and will have to show visible improvements in the areas of concerns including trade union and safety issues,” Prof Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a leading think-tank, told UNB on Friday.
He said the US will review the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) scheme after six months, when Bangladesh can apply for getting back the benefits.
“It seems to me that getting back the GSP benefits won’t be possible within a year as it’s not a job that can be accomplished overnight… decision will be taken after a certain process.”
* Geneva meet to soothe EU concerns on labour safety:
The European Union (EU), largest buyer of Bangladeshi apparels, was keen to work with the country to improve its labour standards, work place environment and other safety compliance issues, sources said.
EU trade commissioner De Gucht is scheduled to discuss the issues with a Bangladeshi delegation, led by foreign minister Dipu Moni, in Geneva on Monday.
The labour and commerce secretaries will also attend the meeting to apprise the EU of the steps taken by the government to improve the situation.
Following the suspension of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities by the USA because of Bangladesh’s poor record on labour rights and safety, there was apprehension that the EU would take a similar action.
The EU, however, dispelled the fear and said it would work closely with Bangladeshi stakeholders to improve workplace safety. The meeting, “Staying Engaged – A Sustainability Compact with Bangladesh”, would focus on labour rights, safety and health at work, and responsible business conduct.
* RMG Sector: UK assures BD of its constant support:
British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Gibson on Sunday assured Bangladesh of its constant support in improving workplace environment and safety issues.
The assurance came from a meeting with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury at her office.
The British envoy said the importance of readymade garment industry for the development of Bangladesh is huge and laid emphasis on improvements in working environment and workers safety apart from fire safety, according to a media release.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* GSP cancellation a foreign plot: BGMEA:
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atiqul Islam blamed foreign conspiracy for cancellation of Generalized System of Preference (GSP) facility for Bangladesh in US.
He came up with the allegation while addressing a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the city on Friday.
Atiqul Islam said, “No country wants Bangladesh to do better economically. So, some countries are trying to grab Bangladeshi garment market in US.”
He added, “GSP cancellation is an over react by US administration. It should extend its supporting hand to Bangladeshi garments sector.”
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Regaining GSP benefit possible within 6 months: Gowher Rizvi :
Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi on Friday said Bangladesh would get back the suspended GSP facility in the US market within six months though the leading economists think it is not possible even in a year.
“It’s possible to regain GSP benefits in the US market within the next six months,” the adviser said while talking to reporters at Banglabandha Land Port.
Gowher Rizvi, however, said Bangladesh needs to work on issues like introduction of trade union, safety and wage issues to regain the facility in the US market.
“Work on these issues has started. The Labour Law has already been amended and it’ll be passed by Parliament in its coming session,” he said.
* BD getting GSP status back:
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Mohammad Faruk Khan expressed hope that United States would revive the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facilities for Bangladesh by next six months.
The minister came up with the expectation while addressing a roundtable titled ‘Garment Industry: Potentiality, Problem and Solution’.
Shippers Council of Bangladesh organized the programme at Daily Star Bhaban at Farmgate in the city on Sunday.
Faruk Khan said, “We are negotiating with Europe and United States of America. Hopefully the GSP facilities will be reinstated in America in the next six months.”
He added: “Through GSP suspension, the US did not help us. We worried about recent industrial accidents.”
* Regaining GSP benefit not possible within a yr: CPD:
Bangladesh needs proper homework and to show visible improvements in safety and workers trade union right issues, and address other areas of concern instead of merely giving lip-services to regain suspended GSP benefits in the US market, economists say.
“In the mid-term, we need to do proper homework and will have to show visible improvements in the areas of concerns including trade union and safety issues,” Prof Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a leading think-tank, told UNB on Friday.
He said the US will review the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) scheme after six months, when Bangladesh can apply for getting back the benefits. “It seems to me that getting back the GSP benefits won’t be possible within a year as it’s not a job that can be accomplished overnight… decision will be taken after a certain process.”
* US GSP suspension: An appraisal:
The decision to suspend GSP (generalised system of preferences) to Bangladesh by the US last week did cause a stir in the international media.
No doubt, this suspension would taint and ruffle the image of Bangladesh as a trade partner, although the US Ambassador to Bangladesh reacting to his country’s actions sounded optimistic to view this suspension as a catalyst for Bangladesh to progress its labour and workforce safety standards.
The GSP programme was first adopted internationally by the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade And Development) at the UNCTAD-II Conference in 1968. It was first adopted by the US with the passing of the Trade Act of 1974. Unlike the Europeann Union’s GSP, which is implemented in ten-year cycle, the US GSP is subject to annual review.
In the Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report of January 9, 2013, prepared for the members and committees of the US Congress, the US GSP programme is referred to as a programme for providing non-reciprocal, duty-free tariff treatment to certain products imported from designated beneficiary developing countries.
* Let’s stop blame game to restore US GSP:
The temporary suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) by the United States has undoubtedly sent shockwaves across Bangladesh as it has brought governance issues in the country into sharp focus globally.
At the short-term, the suspension might appear to be a blow to the country’s image abroad as the World Bank’s cancellation of the much-needed soft-term credit for the planned Padma Bridge project did world-wide.
But in the longer run, driven by sheer necessity, the US decision is expected to make the country fully compliant with global labour standards and workplace safety. The Bangladeshi products will definitely outshine those of others as readymade garments do.
* Revival of GSP from US by 6 months: minister:
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Lt Col (retd) Faruk Khan today hoped that restoration of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) would be possible by the next six months as an expert team of the government is working on it.
The US government would soon understand that its decision to suspend the trade preferences would benefit neither them, nor Bangladesh, he said.
He was speaking at a roundtable on ‘Garment Sector of Bangladesh: Prospect, Problems, Challenges and Way Out’, arranged by Shippers’ Council of Bangladesh (SCB) at The Daily Star conference room here.
Managing Editor of the daily Dr Salauddin Ahmed chaired the function while additional research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) KG Moazzem presented the keynote paper on the topic of the roundtable.
read more.& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* ‘Face glare on politics in RMG sector:
Speakers at a conference on the garment industry called for separating politics and business.
The perpetrators of the major mishaps in the sector have managed to escape punishment because of politicisation of business, the speakers said at the meeting on “Garments sector of Bangladesh: Prospects, problems, challenges and way out” in the city on Sunday. They added that there was a need for national unity to resolve the problems in the garments sector.
Civil aviation and tourism minister Muhammad Faruk Khan, who was the chief guest, expressed concern over the US decision to suspend Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facilities for Bangladesh. “By withdrawing trade benefits, the US has created problems instead of providing assistance.
We are optimistic that it will lift the suspension within six months,” he said.
The minister emphasised on coordinated efforts to resolve the problems in the RMG sector. He informed that the government has set up a cabinet committee led by the textile minister to look into the problems and make recommendations to resolve them.
Khan said the present government increased the wages of garments workers by 82 per cent in the past four-and-a-half years. “The government is now thinking to increase their wages again,” he added.
* Well-intentioned but poorly crafted:
The populist move of the USTR would surely appease the trade union activists of the US as their shout is finally being heeded to. The real beneficiaries of the decision of the USTR are likely to be third country exporters to the US market who have competing export goods to the US market and the domestic manufacturing lobbies of the US. Along with the workers and industrialist of Bangladesh, the US consumers too would potentially lose from reduced choices and higher prices for their goods, writes Md Rizwanul Islam
I WOULD be among the last few persons to deny that there are not quite significant and recurrent violations of labour rights in the manufacturing outlets of Bangladesh. Like many others, I also ardently believe that as the national legal and political system have dismally failed to ensure internationally recognised labour rights and safety of workers at workplace, the international community has to act in some form. I accept that the actions of the international community should be decisive and can even be punitive. But I would also be among the last few to accept that a blanket punitive measure such as the decision of the United States Trade Representative to withdraw the facilities enjoyed by Bangladeshi exporters for exporting around 5,000 products under the generalised system of preferences is warranted.
* TICFA and GSP: Separate but important issues:
The Ministry of Commerce in particular and the government, in general, have been under focus over the last few weeks on the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) and the question of restoration of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility with the United States.
Several conspiracy theories have also been advanced by different quarters about possible after-effects that might stem from our being engaged within these two paradigms.
It may be recalled that formal negotiations for TICFA began in 2002 in the name of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). It was later re-branded as TICFA to make it a binding accord for necessary cooperation between the two countries.
Unofficially, this subject has been included during discussions with the United States since 1992. Five ministries in the Bangladesh government were involved in this process. The eventual agreement of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs enabled the Cabinet to agree to sign the TICFA agreement. It would be useful to note here that apart from some regional agreements, Bangladesh has so far signed bilateral trade agreements with 42 countries.
* Is Indian industry safe, asks GlobalPost of US:
As Indian ready-made garment (RMG) makers are expecting new exports orders worth $3.0 billion in 2014 in the wake of industrial mishaps in Bangladesh, a recent deadly building collapse in Mumbai has raised a fresh question on safety of the factories in India.
Following the collapse of a two-storey factory building on Thursday in Bhiwandi, near the India’s financial capital, GlobalPost, an online news portal of the United States operating from Boston wondered in its report on Saturday: “Is the Indian industry really safer?
So far, six people have died and around 40 suffered serious injuries, following the collapse of a two-storey factory building in Bhiwandi, an urbanised village in the Thane district, on the outskirts of Mumbai.
The accident drew attention to safety issues in India’s own garment manufacturing sector, even as industry heavyweights forecast a boom in orders from the US and European brands fleeing Bangladesh due to the collapse of a garment factory in April there.
read more. (article GlobalPost see below-India)
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Towards sustainable economic growth:
Bangladesh is maintaining a steady growth, but the country cannot reach a satisfactory level of economic performance.
Every year, Bangladesh fails to achieve the projected growth rate of its gross domestic product (GDP). Political instability, coupled with lack of good governance, is one of the causes behind it. Political instability is part of Bangladesh’s political culture; there is yet no sign that it will stop anytime soon.
The reality is that the economy of Bangladesh has still been marching forward under such adverse circumstances; it is true that only socio-economic advancement up to the country’s full potential will be able to help overcome the problem of its political instability.
Besides, there are obscurantist forces, whom some quarters term, on real or some perceived grounds, as ‘religious fundamentalists.’ Being retrogressive in nature, such obscurantists are against country’s progress, in the modern sense of the term, in its socio-economic fields. In one way, they cause disruption to economic growth.
* RMG exports up over 16pc in April-May this year:
Exports of ready-made garments (RMG) from Bangladesh increased more than 16 per cent to US$ 3.6 billion in April and May this year against $ 3.1 billion in the same months in 2012.
The export growth has been seen as a spectacular success of the garment industry of the country, the image of which was under turmoil following the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar, that killed 1,129 workers and maimed many others in April last.
Following the disasters media, mainly from the western world, reported that global buyers were opting to search other countries as sources for their garments merchandise.
Competitors of Bangladesh in apparel trade, mainly Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and even India, were hoping to boost their apparel exports as many buyers were under safety concern for workers in Bangladesh.
* New hope: Jute fibre for auto industries:
Jute was once known as the golden fibre of Bangladesh, because it was the most important cash crop for the country.
Bangladesh used to have a monopoly of jute fibre commercially. Its share in the export market was 80 per cent from 1947-48 but in 1975-76 it fell to only 25 per cent. The polypropylene products started to substitute traditional jute products causing the jute market go down gradually. The biggest jute mill ‘Adamjee Jute Mills’ was officially closed. Many countries had started growing jute and allied fibres.
* Bumper jute production likely in northern region:
A bumper jute production is likely in northern region despite a little shortfall in the farming target as harvest of the fibre crop just began almost everywhere this season, official sources said.
Horticulture Specialist of the Agriculture Extension (DAE) Khandker Md Mesbahul Islam said excellent jute production is expected following favourable climatic condition and adoption of the latest farming technologies.
According to the DAE sources, the farmers have cultivated jute on 2,20,333 hectares land this season in the region, 4,910 hectares less than the fixed target of producing 24,00,127 bales of the fibre from 2,25,243 hectares land.
read more. & read more.
* Yarn exporters passing thru’ tough time for Eurozone crisis:
Despite the increase in the prices of raw jute as well as the manufacturing cost of jute yarns in the fiscal 2012-13, the country’s yarn exporters are facing losses as the international prices keep falling due to unrest in the Middle East and the Eurozone crisis.
Although the total earnings from jute yarn export is expected to stand higher in the fiscal 2012-13, compared to the earning of its preceding fiscal, the price per unit has been in the downtrend over the same period, observed industry insiders.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Jute cultivated on 30,550 hectares of land in Magura:
06:34:38 local time INDIA
* Death toll in Thane garment factory building collapse rises to 6:
The death toll in the garment factory building collapse in Thane has gone up to six while 26 people have been injured. The 2-storeyed building in Bhiwandi collapsed late on Wednesday night.
The police has arrested the architect of the building but five others remain absconding. The Rescue operations are still on as it is taking time to look through the rubble.
The building collapse was the third incident in Thane in the last three weeks. Officials said that prima facie it appeared that the building may have collapsed due to construction on the first floor.
to read. & read more.
* Death toll rises to six, building architect arrested:
The death toll in the Bhiwandi garment factory collapse rose to six on Friday. The police have arrested the architect of the building.
The National Disaster Response Force that was conducting the rescue operations recovered two bodies on Thursday night, and another one late in the night. The six deceased have been identified as Sheikh Tareek Shaikh Mubarak, 21, Mohammed Ansarul Mohammed Mansoor, 22, Miraj Shaikh, 25, Munna Wajur Diwan, 25, Birender Pandey, 45 and Shaikh Tajamul, 28.
Meanwhile, Narpoli police arrested architect Ravish Abdul Rehman Dhuru, 48, and produced him before the Bhiwandi court. Dhuru has been remanded in police custody till July 10.
Police have registered a case against Shree Arihant Corporation owners Sanjay Dodhia and Hasmukh Dodhia, Prem Panjabi, owner of the factory, and contractors Chinna and Munshi.
“Dhuru is the architect of the structure. The remaining five accused are still absconding and investigations are still on,” said senior police inspector, J B Patil. Police said that two teams have been formed to look for the accused. The inspector said that the building was weak and the ongoing construction was undertaken without permission.
* Architect arrested in Thane’s garment factory collapse:
A day after a building collapsed in Thane near Mumbai killing six people, the architect of the two-storey structure has been arrested. The building in Arihant Compound, which housed a tailoring workshop, collapsed in Bhiwandi yesterday at around 1 am.
A third floor was being added to the old building, even when people working the graveyard shift were present in the building. R Abdul Rehman, the architect who worked on the plans for the building, was arrested today.
The owner of the building has gone missing. “We have filed a case of culpable homicide,” Thane Police Commissioner, KP Raghuvanshi had said.
* Are Indian factories really safer than those in Bangladesh?:
Mumbai garment factory collapses on the eve of an expected manufacturing windfall.
The death toll from the collapse of a Mumbai-area garment factory mounted on Friday, as rescue workers continued to sift through the wreckage.
So far, six people have died and around 40 have suffered serious injuries, following the collapse of a two-storey factory in Bhiwandi, an urbanized village in the Thane district, on the outskirts of India’s financial capital.
The accident draws attention to safety issues in India’s own garment manufacturing sector, even as industry heavyweights forecast a boom in orders from US and European brands fleeing Bangladesh due to the April collapse of a garment factory there.
Indian clothing makers are expecting as much as $3 billion in new business next year from brands like the GAP, American Eagle, Nike, and Abercrombie & Fitch thanks to better compliance with international standards, according to a recent report in India’s Textile Magazine. That’s a substantial boost to an industry that exported around $13 billion worth of ready made garments in fiscal 2012, compared with Bangladesh’s $19 billion.
But is the Indian industry really safer?
* 150 crore aid for powerloom industry:
The maiden visit of Union textile minister KavuruSambasivaRao has turned out to be a jackpot for the country’s biggest man-made fibre (MMF) industry in the city.
The Union minister has announced Rs 150 crore worth of scheme for upgrading the conventional powerloom machines in the city.
Official sources said the scheme is directly going to benefit over 2.5 lakh powerloom machines, which fall under the category of ‘plain looms’. The financial assistance would help the weavers to upgrade their powerloom machines to semi-automatic looms.
Rao, while talking to TOI, said, “As per the survey by the textile commissioner’s office, about 40 per cent of powerloom machines in the city falls under the category of plain looms. I have proposed Rs 150 crore worth of upgradation scheme for such powerlooms. This would help weavers to increase their production.”
* Textile ministry chalks out plan to reduce silk imports:
Presently, India imports 6,000 tonnes of silk worth Rs 2,000 crore from China
The textiles ministry has finalised an area expansion plan proposed by the Central Silk Board (CSB) in an effort to increase the production of silk in the 12th five-year Plan. The CSB has planned to bring additional 59,000 hectares (ha) under cultivation of mulberry silk in both traditional and non-traditional areas.
“We have set a target of increasing the silk production to 32,000 tonnes by the end of the 12th Plan period and this requires additional area. Over a period of four years, we have proposed to increase the area under mulberry silk by 59,000 ha, a growth of 32 per cent over the present level. Presently, silk is produced from 185,000 ha in the country,” said K Shetty, joint secretary, CSB.
* Guj garment association in talks with AEPC for export enhancement:
In a bid to enhance their share of apparel exports, the Gujarat based garmenters are in talks with the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) on ways to expand quality and volume.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 21st Gujarat Garment Manufacturers‘ Association (GGMA) National Garment Fair, the association’s president Vijay Purohit said, “Currently, Gujarat’s share in the country’s apparel exports is hardly two per cent and quite negligible. We are so far mostly dependent on the domestic market. We are therefore in talks with the AEPC to enhance our exports share. Our target is to contribute at least 10 per cent of India’s apparel exports in next 3-4 years.”
* Reebok India scam: All accused framed:
In an important development, a local court has framed charges against all the accused in Rs 870 crore Reebok India scam.
Former senior officials, including managing director Subhinder Singh and chief financial officer Vishnu Bhagat have been made main accused in the case. Three other officials, including general manager Prashant Bhatnagar, Sanjeev Mishra and Surakshit Bhatt have been made co-accused in the case. The court has also made six other persons accused of criminal conspiracy.
In May last year, Reebok had lodged an FIR with Gurgaon police alleging that its former managing director Subhinder Singh Prem and chief financial officer Vishnu Bhagat had stolen products by setting up secret warehouses and fudged accounts, leading to huge loss for the Indian unit.
06:34:38 local time SRI LANKA
* Apparel Industry On Death Bed:
The egotistical attitude adopted by the government with regard to the GSP plus concession has had a devastating effect on the local garment industry – once a thriving export earning sector. According to those engaged in the industry, today only about 25% of the garment manufacturers are there in comparison to the year 2000.
Despite the government’s claims that the loss of GSP+ would not affect the garment industry, many factories have been forced to close down, while thousands of employees have either lost their jobs or are forced to seek alternate employment due to the meager wages offered now. This situation has forced the government to rethink now its stance on the EU’s trade concession.
The GSP Plus boosted the country’s industrial exports and its withdrawal has affected export income and the trade balance adversely, because the economy is heavily dependent on industrial exports.
06:04:38 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbeklegprom signs deal with Chinese textile companies: