12:20:13 local time CHINA
* Exports set back, imports flat in June:
China’s exports in June unexpectedly declined, adding to the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy as the new leadership strives for economic transformation and upgrading.
Meanwhile, a decrease in imports in June suggested little improvement in domestic demand amid credit tightening and manufacturing overcapacity.
Exports in June dropped 3.1 percent from a year earlier to $174.32 billion, the most since October 2009, while imports edged down 0.7 percent year-on-year to $147.19 billion, the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday. Overall foreign trade shrank 2 percent year-on-year to $321.51 billion in June with a trade surplus of $27.13 billion.
Exports in May rose 1 percent from a year earlier and imports fell 0.3 percent.
“Exports and imports eased remarkably in the first half of this year and the picture is especially pessimistic in May and June,” Zheng Yuesheng, a spokesman for the customs agency, told a news conference on Wednesday. “The severe challenges confronting China’s foreign trade at present will remain in place in the second half of this year. The ultimate solution lies in transforming growth patterns and restructuring commodities so as to stabilize China’s share in global trade.”
“Many traditional businesses around our factory, such as those in the toy and garment industries, have seen a sharp drop in overseas sales in the first half of the year,” said Chen.
11:20:13 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex widens search for new partners:
The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) would launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the fourth quarter of this year, confirmed Deputy General Director Le Tien Truong on Tuesday.
Speaking at a conference to review the results of the first half and targets for the end of this year, Truong said his group had completed procedures for the IPO and was waiting for the Government’s approval.
He said many foreign investors wanted to become strategic partners with Vinatex, but they were yet to select a satisfactory candidate.
* Garment exports earn 9 billion USD in 6 months:
Vietnam’s textiles and garments exports in the first half of this year earned 9 billion USD.
The figure was reported at a press conference held Tuesday in Hanoi by the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex). The US is currently Vietnam’s biggest market for textiles and garments, worth 4 billion USD, followed by the EU, Japan, and South Korea. The strong result reflects the growing competitiveness of Vietnamese products in the world market.
11:20:13 local time THAILAND
* Underwear workers’ leaders triumph:
The Criminal Court on Thursday dismissed a case of illegal assembly brought against three labour leaders at a factory operated by a global women’s underwear firm, Triumph International.
The case was filed by prosecutors on Jan 27, 2011 against Boonrod Saiwong, 36, Sunthorn Boonyod, 52, and Jitra Kochadej, 39.
According to the lawsuit, on Aug 27, 2009 the three led about 300 workers of Triumph International (Thailand) to rally on Phitsanulok road and blocked gate No 4 of Government House in a protest against alleged unfair dismissal of 1,959 workers.
The three, in doing so, had violated Sections 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code by organising an illegal assembly of more than 10 people, inciting unrest, and refusing to end the protest when told do so by police, the lawsuit alleged.
* Project paves way to organic certification for Thai producers:
Five Thai silk companies and five Thai spa-cosmetics companies have benefited from the advice of European experts on organic certification and from European Union funding for getting their products certified, under a 30-month project called SCRIPT (Supervised Care and Rehabilitation Involving Personal Tele-robotics).
“In parallel with [the trend towards increasing consumer demand for] green and natural products, being able to offer certified products is an added value which can help increase selling prices,” the Thai-Italian and Franco-Thai chambers of commerce said in a joint statement.
Of the 25 silk companies interested, only five were selected and trained to develop internal control procedures. All five managed to be certified against international standards. Three companies, Chul Thai Silk, Ruenmai-Baimon and Spun Silk World, won Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, the first silk companies in all of to achieve this. The other two, Thai Cotton and Silk and Bam Khumsukkho, met a different standard, “Natural Colour with Organic Fibre”, suitable for community-based producers of handicrafts.
11:20:13 local time CAMBODIA
* No bail for Sabrina unionists:
According to defence lawyer Kao Ty, the court decided to uphold the decision of the provincial court in a closed-door hearing last Friday.
“They said if those eight members and workers were released on bail, they would cause a problem again,” he said, adding that he would appeal the decision.
“We wouldn’t go against the court’s decision to detain them if they had provoked people or destroyed company property, but they didn’t,” Ty said.
Provincial court judge Cheum Rithy yesterday said a trial date had not been set and defended his decision to hold the unionists, saying that to “release them on bail . . . will affect or disturb our investigation”.
In a message published in an ad in the Post last month, Sabrina president Susan Chen appealed to the Cambodian government “to firmly uphold the rights of law-abiding bona fide investors such as Sabrina factory”.
* Reward for tips on Fugitive Ex-Governor:
There’s currently a reward offered for information on the whereabouts of fugitive ex-governor Chhouk Bandith who remains on the run for more than two weeks after being convicted of shooting in a crowd of protestors, injuring three garment workers.
Deum Tnon News, a Phnom Penh-based newspaper, has collected around $1,700 from citizens all across, donating their own money for a reward leading to information for his capture.
He was also ordered to pay 38 million riel (U.S. $9,500) in compensation to three factory workers who were wounded in the shooting during a protest by thousands of workers against conditions in a Puma sportswear supplier factory.
The shooting case against him had been dropped last year, but the charges were reinstated by the Appeals Court in March.
read more. & read more.
12:20:13 local time MALAYSIA
* Textile, Apparel Exports To Rise 20 Per Cent With TPP, Says Trade Body:
Malaysia’s total textile and apparel exports are projected to increase by 20 per cent with the implementation of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the Malaysian Textile Manufacturers Association said today.
The association said with the elimination of duties upon the TPP agreement’s entry into force, consumers in these negotiating countries would find Malaysian textile and apparel products to be more competitive.
“The exports to TPP member countries in 2012 amounted to RM3.3 billion. The TPP agreement will see a decrease of import duty for Malaysian textile and apparel products entering the TPP member countries,” it said in a statement here Thursday.
The upcoming 18th round of TPP negotiations to be held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, will see plurilateral negotiations involving Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam and Japan, which will be participating for the first time.
10:20:13 local time BANGLADESH
* Call for new laws to ensure safe workplace:
The government should enact new laws to take legal actions against the companies who failed to ensure safe workplace, a platform of women lawyers said yesterday.
“It’s a matter of great concern that industrial accidents are taking place one after another due to the negligence of the owners or senior management,” said Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association.
The Rana Plaza collapse that claimed 1,131 lives and the fire at Tazreen Fashions that killed 111 garment workers are the recent examples of such negligence, she said.
The country has hardly any law to address the corporate offences, and the laws cannot ensure accountability of the owners or the top management, said Fawzia Karim Feroze, president of the association.
So the government should enact laws such as a Corporate Criminal Liability Act soon, she said at a discussion on the formation of the act, organised by the platform, at the National Press Club in the capital.
She also blamed the failure to ensure safe workplace on the inefficiency or negligence of the senior management of garment factories.
* Provide affordable healthcare for RMG workers:
Ready-made garment (RMG) workers should be provided with healthcare at affordable rates in recognition of their contribution to the country’s economy, said Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury yesterday.
“This is because a study (of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh conducted earlier this year) shows that a Bangladeshi citizen has to bear 64 percent of his health expenses, which can beggar many,” he said.
Thus, RMG workers should be given certain concessions, he told a workshop, “It is the state’s responsibility to reduce people’s expenses in accessing healthcare”, organised by Shasthaya Andolon, a health activists’ collective, in the capital’s Jatiya Press Club.
RMG workers will be able to afford healthcare if diagnosis, surgery, treatment and physiotherapy are cost-free and expensive tests like colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, computed tomography for the head, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging discounted, said Dr Zafrullah.
He said such considerations would also make RMG workers access health insurance, costing them Tk 1,500 a year and each of their family members Tk 1,000.
* RMG workers’ infighting injures 20 in Savar:
At least 20 garments workers were injured in a clash between two groups in Ashulia industrial area on Thursday.
Sources said the clash erupted as ESE knitwear sacked two officials of it.
Some workers of the factory heard the news after coming at factory in the morning. Hearing the news they protested the incident.
At one stage, another group of the factory swooped on them triggering clash, leaving at least 20 workers injured from both sides.
* EU-ILO-BANGLADESH Joint Statement for improvement of labor rights and safety in the Garment Sector of Bangladesh:
Joint Statement-Staying engaged: A Sustainability Compact for continuous
improvements in labour rights and factory safety in the Ready-Made Garment
and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh
The representatives of the Government of Bangladesh, the European Union (EU) represented b ythe European Commission and the International Labour Organization (ILO) met in Geneva on 8 July 2013 to promote improved labour standards and responsible business conduct in the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) and knitwear industry in Bangladesh. Representatives from industry (including brands, retailers and SMEs), employers, trade unions and other key stakeholders participated in the meeting and provided valuable input.
The participants acknowledge the positive impact of the RMG and knitwear sector in Bangladesh over the past three decades and its contribution to economic development, employment, higher income level and skills in Bangladesh, as well as its positive impact on eradication of poverty, empowerment of women and progress on the timely attainment of some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This also enhances trade amongst countries and creates global wealth. As the RMG and knitwear industry holds further growth potential in Bangladesh, participants emphasise the importance of a balanced development of the sector, with safe and secure work places for further expansion of trade.
* JICA to redirect US$ 10cr from SME to RMG compliance prog:
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has decided to redirect US$ 10 crore from its project on financing small and medium enterprise (SME) in the country for a proposed programme to improve the building safety in the readymade garment (RMG) sector.
The ‘expression of intention’ was announced at a meeting among officials of Bangladesh Bank (BB), Embassy of Japan, JICA, Banks and Financial Institutions Division (BFID) of Finance Ministry, Public Works Department (PWD) of Housing and Public Works Ministry, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), held at BB Bhaban on Thursday.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Tk 1b pilot project for RMG workers’ safety:
The central bank is going to launch a pilot project worth Tk 1.0 billion with the financial support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for improving working environs in the readymade garment (RMG) industry.
“The financing initiative is expected to commence soon on a pilot scale, with the JICA fund of Tk 1.0 billion,” Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Atiur Rahman said while speaking at a meeting on expression of intention regarding safe working environment in RMG sector held in the central bank Thursday.
He also said cost of relocation of factories from unsafe rented premises, and cost of procurement of safety equipment will also be eligible for financing support under this initiative.
The BB has taken the latest initiative against the backdrop of Rana Plaza collapse in Savar on April 24 last, where 1,127 people were killed and hundreds were severely injured.
“To ease stresses from cost burdens of retrofitting or rebuilding the factory buildings, banks participating in this initiative will lend to the factories for this purpose at interest rate not exceeding 10 per cent per annum, against which banks will draw refinance from the BB out of the JICA fund at a concessional interest rate of 5.0 per cent, leaving for them adequate interest income margin of up to 5.0 per cent,” the BB chief said.
He also said the financing will be long term up to 15 years including a two-year grace period.
At the meeting, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Shiro Sadoshima and JICA Chief Representative Takao Toda in their speeches underscored the need for taking immediate actions to address the RMG sector issues to rebuild the image of the sector and the country as well.
The Japanese Ambassador urged other development partners to come forward for improving safety measures and working conditions in the country’s apparel sector. Mentioning Japanese experiences in managing post-disaster situations, the JICA chief representative said collective effort of the government and the private sector will help them to handle the situation.
“We, Japanese people, promise to stay with you.”
* Low-cost loans for garment factory upgrades:
Garment manufacturers can now get low-cost funds — at 10 percent interest rate — for factory upgrades to ensure a safe working environment, Bangladesh Bank said yesterday.
BGMEA and BKMEA member factories employing between 100 and 2,000 employees will be eligible for the loan, which is to be used for rebuilding or relocation of factories and purchase of equipment to ensure health and safety of workers.
The loan repayment period is 15 years, with a two-year grace period, BB said.
* 34 sick apparel units may get interest waiver:
Thirty four sick apparel factories would get interest waiver as the government decided a bailout package so the factories could pay back the principal amount of loans to the banks.
The factories have long been maintaining overdue loans and interests of over Tk5bn taken from 11 banks and financial institutions, said a senior official of the finance division. “The sick units will be entitled to exemption of interests against their loans.”
* RMG export defiant against all odds:
The garment export of Bangladesh was feared to face a drop in figure
Braving all adversaries, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment products export marked nearly 13% growth in last fiscal year with the amount totalling US$21.5bn, shows Export Promotion Bureau data released recently
In the previous fiscal, the figure was $19bn despite the EU countries, Bangladesh RMG’s major destinations, were hit by recession.
This rapidly growing sector of the country recently suffered one of the worst industrial accidents in history killing at least 1,129 workers in Savar. Just months before, a fire accident in a garment factory in Ashulia, outskirts of Dhaka, also caused 111 deaths. There were also several accidents though less deadly.
Following these deadly incidents, the work condition in RMG factories in Bangladesh has been hit by severe criticisms, both locally and internationally. The major global brands were also lambasted, who later reached agreements to contribute to improve working condition of the factories that supply garments to them.
Even calls were also made from different sections to stop sourcing garments from Bangladesh. The US suspended GSP over Bangladeshi products and urged Bangladesh authorities to improve working condition in factories to get back the facility. Besides, the factories had suffered huge labour protests.
* US buyers team up for RMG workers’ safety:
Leading US retailers launched an alliance in Washington DC on Wednesday aims to improve industrial safety standards in Bangladesh garment factories, reports BSS.
The alliance will work with the government of Bangladesh and its industry groups, worker rights organizations and others who support safer factory working conditions to coordinate the initiative’s activities with the National Tripartite Plan of Action (NAP) on Fire Safety for the readymade garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh.
Against the backdrop of deadly accidents in some Bangladesh garment factories, the alliance and the worker safety initiative were developed over the past five weeks under the guidance of former US Senators George J. Mitchell and Olympia Snowe, who act as independent facilitators at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based pubic think-tank.
Describing the Bipartisan Policy Center’s role in facilitating the creation of the alliance, Senator Mitchell said they sought and received input from a wide range of interested parties, including, among others, the governments of Bangladesh and the United States, fire and safety experts, and worker representatives.
Some U.S. retailers had come under fire for not joining a group of Western retailers that adopted a legally binding pact to improve worker safety soon after the collapse, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
Some US media report that when the deal was announced in Washington, a small group of protesters gathered on the street and handed out leaflets saying the retailers’ pact is “woefully inadequate” and won’t do enough to help workers.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Walmart-Gap-led BD safety plan under… fire:
A leading consortium of workers’ groups in the United States has criticised a safety plan announced for Bangladesh garment factories on Wednesday by 17 North American retailers led by global brands Walmart and Gap.
The consortium branded the safety plan as a non-binding, unenforceable set of promises and said the North American safety plan was not stronger than another safety accord signed finally in Europe on Monday.
Nearly 70 European retailers have signed a similar accord on Monday what is known as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord). The efforts for the Accord were launched in May after the collapse of Rana Plaza.
The Washington DC-based Workers Right Consortium (WRC) alleged that Walmart and Gap along with majority of US brands and retailers refused to sign the binding Accord, an enforceable worker safety programme.
“Walmart and Gap have failed to prevent numerous workers’ deaths in Bangladesh and the auditing scheme it has announced will be another in the long series of ineffective corporate auditing programmes that these companies have touted for years,” WRC Executive Director Scott Nova said in a statement made available to the FE.
Walmart, Gap and the corporations that have chosen to join the American safety plan are unwilling to commit to a programme under which they actually have to keep the promises they make to workers and accept financial responsibility for ensuring that their factories are made safe, he said in the statement.
“Instead, they offer a programme that mimics the Accord rhetorically, but that omits the features that make an agreement meaningful,” said the WRC executive director.
The approach of Walmart and Gap is nothing new. It is the same self-regulatory approach that the brands and the retailers have been using in Bangladesh for years, where thousands of workers have been killed, the statement said quoting an observation of Clean Clothes Campaigns (CCC).
CCC as one of the promoters of the accord has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers.
“It has no worker representative signatories, which means there is no-one involved with an interest in making sure it is enforced,” said the WRC, explaining why this North American scheme falls far short of the programme embodied in the binding, enforceable safety Accord of European brands and retailers.
* US retailers’ plan for Bangladesh factory safety branded a sham:
A plan developed by North American retailers including Gap and Walmart in an attempt to improve safety in Bangladeshi garment factories has been labelled a ‘sham’ by workers’ rights groups, reports Guardian.
The two retailers were part of an alliance of 17 US and Canadian brands and retailers which on Wednesday launched a five-year agreement as an alternative to a legally binding accord backed by 70 international brands, including Marks & Spencer and Primark as well as unions led by IndustriALL and UNI.
Murray Worthy, a sweatshops campaigner at War on Want, said, ‘Gap and Walmart’s safety plan is a sham which won’t make factories safe.’
Both deals have been agreed in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in April in which more 1,000 people were killed when a substandard factory building collapsed. That disaster followed a series of fires at garment factories and highlighted the working conditions in the country’s £13billion-a-year garment industry and the plight of millions of workers who are paid as little as £25 a month.
The North American deal promises to arrange the inspection of all factories used by the signatories within a year and the establishment of a common set of safety standards by October this year.
* Promoting jute-based handloom industries stressed:
Speakers at the certificate distribution ceremony of a five-day workshop-cum training course here yesterday afternoon stressed promoting jute-based handloom industries for enhancing exports of the country’s jute products.
Multipurpose Jute Industries Entrepreneurs’ Service Centre of Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC) under the Ministry of Textiles and Jute organised the programme for unemployed women.
Executive director of JDPC Mokhlesur Rahman attended the ceremony as the chief guest and distributed certificates among 22 trainee women with Rangpur Centre-in-Charge of Multipurpose Jute Industries Entrepreneurs’ Service Centre Meher Hussaine in the chair.
read more. & read more.
* Jute exports take a hit from steep fall in India’s rupee:
Bangladesh has seen a decline in exports of jute and jute goods to India, one of the major markets, as the rupee’s slide has pushed the neighbouring nation’s import costs up.
“Our orders have dried up over the last several months,” said Kaihan Rahman, deputy managing director of Pubali Jute Mills, a leading exporter to India. “Even if they [Indian buyers] wish to place orders, they quote prices which are unacceptable to us.”
The rupee fell 15 percent against the dollar in the last one year, according to Gopi Kishon Sureka, chief executive of Fiber ‘N Fibre, an exporter of jute products. “This has been very unkind to us.”
The development comes at a time when markets in the Middle East have been shrinking amid sanctions against Iran by the Western nations and protracted political turmoil in Syria and Egypt. The Eurozone recession, too, had an impact.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Victims’ protest in front of BGMEA office:
Workers of the garment factories that were housed in Savar’s collapsed Rana Plaza have been demonstrating in front of the BGMEA Building in the capital demanding payment of their salary and compensation before Eid since around 12 noon.
The workers staged a sit-in on the road in front of the BGMEA building as police obstructed them when they tried to enter the building.
BGMEA has so far distributed wages and other benefits among 1,776 of its 3,617 listed workers of factories that were housed in Rana Plaza.
The association has refused the workers’ demand for four months’ pay.
Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, killing 1,126 people.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Rana Plaza survivors seek fair compensation:
A group of survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse yesterday demanded fair disbursement of compensation as many victims are yet to receive any.
Rana Plaza Garment Sramik Union, a workers’ platform, placed the demand at a rally in front of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Dhaka.
The government and garment owners should publish the names and addresses of the recipients of compensation on the website to ensure transparency, said Mohammad Shahjahan, a survivor of the collapse.
Although BGMEA has disbursed money, many are yet to receive payment while some workers are receiving payment more than once, he said.
The government should finance the welfare of the workers, he said.
The workers also demanded that their identity cards and attendance cards be returned so that they can apply for jobs in other factories.
The government should also complete the DNA tests of the lost workers soon, the workers said. They demanded a minimum wage of Tk 8,000 a month and the freedom to form and participate in trade unions.
09:50:13 local time INDIA
* Labour laws, costly credit crumple garment exports:
Roughly a decade ago, India threw open garment production — until then the preserve of small scale industries (SSI) — to organised industry, hoping to make major headway in exports markets.
But that was not to be. Blame the country’s inflexible labour laws, the clothing segment’s share in the country’s total textile and garment exports has only shrunk. Cotton yarn, at the lower end of the value chain, continues to be the pillar of India’s textile and clothing exports. Not only China, which clocked a four-fold increase in its garment exports share since 1990 and has entrenched its supremacy in the textile segment as well, even Bangladesh and Vietnam witnessed quantum jumps in their garment exports.
In recent years, many large garment companies have emerged in India, many of them employing tens of thousands of people across dozens of their factories. They have, however, avoided consolidating their capacities under fewer roofs fearing union militancy.
* ‘We can reach $50 billion textile exports’:
Textiles minister Kavuri Samba Siva Rao has hit the ground running, lining up measures across the value chain – from cotton growers to textile mills and garment exporters. In an interview, Rao who took charge last month tells TOI that he will give special emphasis to exports and has set a target of reaching $50 billion.
The PM has set some targets and you have been meeting industry representatives. What is the action plan?
We produce around 340 lakh bales of cotton and need around 270 lakh bales for domestic use, leaving a surplus of 70-80 lakh bales. The idea is to export finished goods instead of cotton, which will create jobs and get more foreign exchange. The cotton grower is aggrieved and we have increased the support price. We are looking at ways to improve yields so that he can earn more. Then, there are weavers for whom a revival and loan rescheduling plan is in place. For spinners, we are trying to encourage the domestic industry to produce looms that cost around Rs 15 lakh, which is much cheaper than imported ones. In the interim, we will look at giving interest subsidy to second hand imports that cost around Rs 7 lakh. For garment exporters, there is an opportunity for our exporters as China has moved out of some segments.
But what about the labour cost, which is high compared to Bangladesh, and poor infrastructure?
09:50:13 local time SRI LANKA
* SL apparel-makers eye high-end Chinese market:
Sri Lanka’s garment industry is targeting higher-end Chinese consumers, with total apparel exports to China growing twenty-fold — from US$0.7 million in 2010 to US$15 million in 2012.
In China, a new market has emerged for top quality local brands, Sri Lanka’s Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) said in a statement, adding: “The high level of GDP (gross domestic product) growth and rising per capita income has widened the middle class there.”
Sri Lanka’s entry into China has two tracks, a note from one of the country’s leading clothing manufacturers, Hirdaramani Group, told just-style.
“The first would be manufacturing directly for high-end Chinese brands, and the second would be via the international brands within our current client portfolio as they look to expand to the Chinese market.”
* ‘Join our JiT apparels and sell in European shops in just three days’- Tarek:
Tunisia, the fifth phosphate producer in the world and a high end, high speed apparel supplier to European fashion world is showing a new opening for Lankan apparel supply chains.
And Tunisia is agog over Sri Lanka’s growth rates. “We are almost taken up by your strong GDP growth rates that exceed 6%. I congratulate Sri Lanka for its spectacular growth. When you specially compare with the world economic growth rate, it’s such a leading rate” said (HE) Tarek Azouz, Ambassador of Tunisia to Sri Lanka on 10 July.
09:20:13 local time PAKISTAN
* GSP-Plus status: stakeholders to hold talks:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is likely to convene a meeting of public sector stakeholders in a couple of months. The meeting is aimed at complying with all 27 International Conventions of United Nations, a prerequisite for duty-free access to the European market through Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
Well-informed sources told Business Recorder that the implementation status on five conventions including International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention Against Torture (CAT) is almost complete. Commerce Secretary Qasim Niaz, who was Trade Minister in Brussels (Belgium) till last month, has already done a lot of ground work for the grant of GSP plus status to Pakistan.
* Textile industry facing 10-hour loadshedding:
The textile industry is running from pillar to post in search of uninterrupted energy supply since the new government is in place to keep their operations intact and workers employed ahead of Eid.
At present, the textile industry is facing 10 hours a day electricity loadshedding on independent feeders and gas supply to the Captive Power Plants of textile mills has also been reduced to two and a half days from five days a week a year back.
This situation has hit the industrial viability hard, as many of the textile units have either closed down operations or laid off workers, besides delaying monthly salaries, particularly in the province of Punjab. The textile industry circles told this scribe that the situation has got out of their control since the Pepco has exposed it to 10 hours a day electricity loadshedding after Supreme Court’s decision of equal loadshedding for electricity consumers across the country.
* Migration of weavers 70 percent decline in carpet exports from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:
The repatriation of 50 percent Afghan carpet weavers to Afghanistan and the shifting of the 30 percent remaining artisans to Lahore has brought 70 percent decline in the export of the product from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Talking to Business Recorder, prominent carpet exporter and a former chairman of All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association (APCEA) Mazharul Haq attributed the mass migration of the weavers because of harassment at the hands of police.
He said that 50 percent of weavers had returned to their homeland while out of the remaining 30 percent had shifted to Lahore, where exporters had established several carpet manufacturing units. “The lack of facilitation and deteriorating law and order situation in the province is forcing the artisan of the carpet industry on shifting to other parts of the country, particularly Punjab,” added Mazharul Haq.
* Leather sector exports fall 17% in six fiscal years:
The leather sector exports have declined 17.21 percent during the last six fiscal years from $1.220 billion in FY 2007-08 to $1.010 billion in 2012-13.
The growth rate of leather sector exports was in minus and exports reduced to 14.09 percent as against positive growth in the region with 47 percent, 40 percent, and 102 percent in China, India and Bangladesh, respectively during the six fiscal years.
Commerce Secretary Qasim Niaz discussed the problems of this important sector, which is providing jobs to about 1.0 million people across the country at the meeting of all stakeholders of leather industry.
Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) Chairman Agha Saiddain informed the meeting the PTA units were upset on stagnant growth for the last six years.
* Global Wage Trends for Apparel Workers, 2001–2011:
When images of poor labor conditions in the garment industries of leading apparel-exporting countries reach the global news media, it is often because those conditions seem uniquely and unjustifiably extreme.
Malnourished workers working 14-hour days faint by the hundreds in Cambodian garment plants. Hundreds more are killed in deadly factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan by owners who lock exit doors when fires start—presumably because they fear that fleeing workers will stop to steal clothes.
Yet these images reflect a common basic reality: Garment workers in many of the leading apparel-exporting countries earn little more than subsistence wages for the long hours of labor that they perform. And in many of these countries, as this report discusses, the buying power of these wages is going down, not up.
Critics of antisweatshop advocates often argue that concern over poor labor conditions in apparel-exporting countries is misplaced and counterproductive. According to their argument, jobs in garment factories, no matter how low the wages or how difficult the conditions, benefit low-skilled workers because they provide better conditions and compensation than jobs in the informal and agricultural sectors of developing countries. Moreover, they posit, export-apparel manufacturing offers these workers—and, by extension, developing countries—a “route out of poverty” through the expansion of the manufacturing sector.
read more. & you can download the report here: 20130711 WRC RealWageStudy-3