in the news on-line, 12 Dec. 2013

  map of asia ASIA

* Asean ‘still a key target for Japanese investment’:

HIGH LABOUR COSTS in China and diversification of Japanese business will continue to bring more direct investment from Japan to Asean countries, a Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) official said yesterday.

In the first 10 months of this year, more than 14 trillion yen (Bt4.4 billion) of Japanese direct investment flowed to Asean countries, compared with only 7.6 trillion yen to China in the same period, said Isamu Wakamatsu, director of the Asia and Oceania division of Jetro’s overseas research department.In 2012, more than 11 trillion yen of Japanese direct investment flowed to Asean countries and 10 trillion yen to China, he said, noting that this trend would continue next year.High labour costs in China encouraged Japanese investors, notably those in labour-intensive industries, to look for new places to do business. They mostly shifted to low-wage countries in the Mekong basin such as Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, which are situated next to China, he said.
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07:38:10 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* EU-GSP+ scheme application submitted:

Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo yesterday signed the Philippine application to the GSP+ plus Scheme of the European Union (EU).

The EU-GSP+ arrangement is a special incentive scheme for sustainable development and good governance anchored on the effective implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, environment and governance principles to which the Philippines is a signatory.
The DTI as lead agency for this initiative has concluded more than a year of preparatory work involving inter-agency consultations and industry briefings on the requirements and benefits of the scheme.
The application is supported by industry groups and associations who would like to take advantage of the GSP+ preferences, particularly the textile and garments and the tuna sectors.
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06:38:10 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Grand Finale of the Radio Competition for Garment Workers on Cambodian
Labour Law:

When: Friday 13 September, 2013 from 4-5 p.m.
Where: Vayo Radio FM 105.5MHz, located on St. 70 # 13B in Sangkat
Sras Chork, Khan Duan Penh, Phnom Penh.
What: After running for nine Fridays since October 6th, the radio competition for garment workers on Cambodian Labour Law reaches its finale this Friday.
Out of a total of 300 applications received from 32 factories, 18 candidates were selected initially through written forms and interviews.
These 18 workers competed via live radio broadcast FM105.5MHz every Friday from 4-5 p.m. The juries for the competition consist of representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the Arbitration Council.
Three finalists will compete for the championship this Friday.

Who: The contest is initiated and organized by ILO-Better Factories Cambodia in collaboration with a local radio station Vayo FM 105.5 MHz. This represents the four consecutive years that the program has been implemented.

The radio competition for garment workers on Cambodian labour law engages Cambodian garment workers to compete on their knowledge of Cambodian labour law.
The competition also aims at disseminating information about Cambodian labour law to garment workers and the public, and promoting the implementation of the labour law in the industry. Journalists and members of media organizations are cordially invited to attend the finale of the competition.

07:38:10 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:

1. Minimum Wage Postponement, Companies are still calculating. 
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here
2. Labour Union expect strengthen law enforcement on BPJS.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here
3. Video diary of disabled persons launched. Read the full article here.
4. Labour Policy 2014 – 2019, Work training becomes National Job.
Read the full article here 
Read the Google Translate English Version here

5. OECD: Indonesia to Experience Fastest Growth in ASEAN.
Read the full article here.
6. Government Sets Industry Priorities. Read the full article here.
7. Jakarta Minimum Wage will not be revised.
Read the full article here
Read the Google Translate English Version here

BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates overview here.
BW indonesia

06:08:10 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Safety and security at work are basic rights:

Seven people were killed when a fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Venus Garden Spa in Mayangon Township.

According to the police and fire services, the fire was caused by an electric iron. But the seven casualties, all employees at the spa, appear to be victims not only of an accident but of gross negligence, lack of safety standards and even the most basic human rights.
We hear of worse disasters due abysmal safety conditions at work. For example, when the Rana Plaza collapsed in Dakar, Bangladesh killing 1129 textile workers. Must we wait for similar catastrophes — and the resulting international pressure — before we start to look at the poor conditions many Myanmar workers have to suffer?

Horrific as they are, we must learn from such incidents so that we do not repeat the same mistakes. Eleven Media urges employers and businesses to ensure their employees are afforded basic rights to health, safety and security at work. This will only reflect well for their businesses as well as help prevent another disaster in future.
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05:38:10 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* RMG sector wants low cost loan to pay workers:

Prolonged political unrest sends them to the verge of becoming sick industry

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has demanded low cost loans to pay wages for next four months as they were facing fund shortage due to failure of shipment caused by the political unrest.

The loans could be given through creating a special packing credit (PC), they said.
BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam demanded the loan for a period between November and February next to be adjusted by next two years.

He said textile, garments and backward linkage industry should not be classified in next two years from Q4 of 2013. He also appealed to block the term loan, project loan, loan against trustee receipt, Murabah Post Import (MPI) and installment without any interest for next two years.
read more.

* The bleak bend of RMG:

The negotiations with garment buyers are much tougher now due to intense competition in the global apparel business.

A day after Rana Plaza had collapsed, there were Indians predicting that their exports would definitely rise within 2013 itself.

Yes, it has. India today is all set to achieve $17 billion in export earnings for 2013-14, with a 31 percent surge in October and the monthly exports reaching $1.19 billion in November, according to figures released by the nation’s Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC). This made India the sixth largest apparel supplier to the US with its exports to the EU rising in the last five months to the tune of $2.38 billion.

Does India have safer factories than us? No.
Does the labour rights scene in India fare better than in Bangladesh? No.
But they are certainly better when it comes to selling skills. They sell the concept of Shining India much better than how we sell our Sonar Bangla.
A simple example will clear my point: While India marches forward, in contrast, even after seven months, we ourselves are still asking questions like: “What is happening to our duty-free privileges to the EU” to none other than the EU commissioner in press conferences related to multiple issues.
The EU commissioner naturally had a response which meant that Bangladesh has to improve or else it will lose its trade privileges.
A few weeks earlier, the EU commissioner had himself said that Bangladesh was improving in terms of workplace safety and labour standards. And a few weeks later, we put the words to his mouth and prompt him to threaten us, which possibly keeps the tension going.
read more.
daily star bd

* Textile industry seeks banking support to tide over crisis:

Country’s textile industry owners have sought banking and financial supports to help overcome the losses they are now incurring due to political unrest.

They placed a set of proposals to this effect before Finance Minister AMA Muhith Wednesday last in Dhaka.
Mr. Muhith assured the owners of meeting a few of their demands.

The industry owners, mainly owners of the apparel units, sought bank loans equivalent to four months’ wages of workers, starting from November last. The loan would be repaid over a period of two years. They also wanted the banks to put their term loans/ project loans/ import-related loans in interest-free block accounts for next two years.

Besides, the owners requested the banks not to categorise their default loans as ‘classified’ ones within two years, starting from the last quarter and onwards.
They also sought the finance minister’s intervention so that they get incentive at a rate of 3.0 per cent against each free on board (FoB) export and Tk 3.0 against exchange rate.
During the meeting, some of the garment leaders expressed their inability to make payment to the workers unless their demands were met.

“I have realised that your demands are reasonable. We will try to address some of your demands. But some amendments to the existing laws are required for meeting some other demands,” Muhith told the textile sector leaders.
read more.
FE bd

* Muhith snubs RMG exporters’ plea for dollar incentive, to consider loan pack:

Finance minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday outright rejected the demand for introduction of special exchange rate for apparel exporters saying such demand was unacceptable. 

The apparel exporters had demanded additional Tk 3 against exchange rate of a US dollar as incentive.
The finance minister, however, assured them of considering other demands placed by the apparel exporters at a meeting at the ministry of finance against the backdrop of ongoing political unrest that has affected the country’s number one export sector and other businesses.
The demands include arrangement of a special loan package including low-interest credit for paying workers’ wages and blocking of term loans without any interest for next two years.
The readymade garment exporters wanted relax of rules of loan classification for two years and waiving of additional charges at Chittagong port.
Putting pressure on the successive governments by the RMG exporters for additional incentives is a common phenomenon. Last month the government lowered the export tax slightly in addition providing cash incentive.
read more.
BD new age

* RMG to get stimulus package this month: Muhith:

Finance Minister AMA Muhith today said the government will provide a stimulus package for the crisis-hit apparel industry to increase its capacity and offset the losses the industry suffered from the political instability.

“We’ll give a stimulus package for the Readymade Garment (RMG) industry to increase its competitiveness. We will make a decision to this end by December,\” he said at a meeting with a business delegation at his Secretariat office.

Muhith said the problem of TT payment lies with the Bangladesh Bank and it would be resolved in a week so that the exporters can get cash incentives for exporting to new markets.
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bss newstodayBD  NEWNATIONnew  theindependent daily star bd

* Relaxed loan policy on way:

The central bank’s loan classification policy will most likely be relaxed this month, Finance Minister AMA Muhith signalled yesterday.

The move comes in response to demands from garment exporters, who are left staring at huge losses after months of severe disruptions to their businesses owing to political turbulence.
They said the current loan classification policy, which marks a loan to be classified when the repayment period overshoots by three months, is “killing” them. Although they are still eligible for new loans, the banks put excessive pressure on them to make their payments.
“I think we will have to do something about it,” the minister said during a meeting with top leaders of the three main garment manufacturers’ platforms at his secretariat.
At the meeting, Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), presented a three-point demand to make up for the excess cost incurred by garment owners following the latest hike in wages and another eight-point demand to compensate the losses suffered due to political unrest.
read more.
daily star bd

* Apparel makers get Muhith’s assurance to demands:

BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA place eight-point demand before finance minister

Finance minister AMA Muhith assured that the demands of apparel makers affected by the current political crisis will be taken into considerations.

The assurance comes at a meeting with readymade garment, knitwear and textile leaders at the finance ministry’s secretariat office in Dhaka yesterday.
BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam, BKMEA president AKM Salim Osman, BTMA president Jahangir Alamin, among others, attended the meeting. Representative from Bangladesh Bank was also present.

The leaders placed eight-point demands before the finance minister.
The demands include payment of workers’ wages of four months from November 2013 to February 2014 creating special PC and BAISALAM to be adjustment in next two years, blocking of term loans, project loans, LTR, MPI, forced loan for two years without interest, a two-year exemption from classifying loans of textile, garment and backward linkages, uninterrupted continuation of letter of credit and other facilities, two-year blocking of instalment of any loan etc.
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* Govt meets RMG buyers’ representatives today to boost confidence:

The government will sit with the representatives of garment buyers today to brief them about the country’s steps to safeguard the apparel sector and boost confidence of the international brands in the face of repeated blockades.

The move came amid concern among the apparel makers and their buyers over the current political deadlock that has hit the garment industry hard, said Mikail Shipar, secretary to the labour and employment ministry.
read more.
daily star bd

05:08:10 local time map of india INDIA

* Trade union team to meet Manmohan:

A delegation of leaders of trade unions AITUC, CITU, INTUC, HMS and the BMS will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday to discuss various issues, including fixing minimum wages at Rs.10,000 a month and increasing the PF pension to Rs.3,000 a month.

AITUC general secretary and CPI MP Gurudas Das Gupta said the trade union members would take out a rally in Delhi to press for the demands.
to read.
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* Garment exports up 15% in April-Oct:

Apparel exports have grown 15.5 per cent the first seven months of the fiscal to $8.2 billion due to revival of demand in the US and the EU.

The Government is now all set to increase the export target for next year from the current $17 billion.
“I am confident that we are on the road to recovery. Signs of its revival are visible in the US and EU, which guided my instinct to revise the apparel export target to $17 billion this year. Let’s keep a high target next year,” Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao said at an awards function of the Apparel Export Promotion Council on Tuesday.
He said it was possible to export $60 billion worth of garments in the next three years.
read more.
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* Apparel exports up 26% during Apr-Oct – Textile Minister:

EPC organized its annual export award function 2013 for outstanding export performance for the year 2012-13, at apparel house, Gurgaon. Dr. K S Rao, Union Textiles Minister, came to deliver awards in presence of Smt. Zohra Chatterji, the Guest of Honour, Senior Officials of Govt. Of India, Officials of AEPC and the captains of the garment Industry were also present.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Rao said, “The apparel sector has earned Rs. 49,200 crores forex in April-October, 2013, showing a growth of 26% over the same period during year 2012.

“Income in both the currencies i.e. INR and US$ are buoyant. In dollar terms, the growth is 15.5% (US$ 8.2 billion) during the same period. I am confident that we are on the road to recovery.
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* Nov Indian garment exports post 21.29% growth:

Dr. A Sakthivel, Chairman AEPC, has expressed satisfaction over the exports growth for the month of November 2013.

In reaction to the trade data released Chairman AEPC said, “The garment exports have been registering a positive growth since last 8 months.
“The growth of RMG for the month of November 2013 is 21.29% registering to the tune of 1051 million US $; the cumulative growth of 16.15% for April- November 2013.”
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* Plea to restrict cotton exports:

The hosiery manufacturers here have appealed to the Centre to restrict the cotton exports to a maximum of 5 lakh bales a month during the current cotton year, which began this October and scheduled to end in September 2014.

“This type of control is imperative to ensure that adequate quantity of cotton becomes available for the domestic consumption. The projections state that around 360 lakh bales of cotton is set to be produced during the current cotton year,” South India Hosiery Manufacturers Association president A. C. Eswaran said.
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04:38:10 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Compliance of ILO convention at work-places urged:

Pakistan will have to adopt International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Better Work Programme (BWP) at work-places and industrial units to maintain its export share in the world market.

Certain administrative and legislative frameworks are required to be put in place before the BWP is initiated.
This was stated by Secretary Human Resource Development and Overseas Pakistanis Munir Qureshi at a briefing given by him before representatives of various textile bodies at Aptma House here on Monday.

He informed that the Walt Disney Corporation, which has a worldwide governance ranking, has already given a cut off date of March 8, 2014, to Pakistan for becoming compliant and feared that if we don’t adhere, other buyers may also follow the suite.
The secretary estimated that in case Disney stops buying from Pakistan, it would have a loss of around $150 million in exports.
Mr Qureshi said perhaps Baldia Town factory incident and collapse of industrial building in Bangladesh has drawn the attention of leading world buyers who have become more conscious about compliances at work-places.
read more.

Gas suspension : APTMA Punjab fears unbearable loss to textile industry:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab Chairman S M Tanveer has said the industry has rationalised its demand for gas during winter to 100 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) against actual demand of 450 MMCFD while understanding the compulsion of the government on gas supply.

However, still, he said, the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) has suspended gas supply to the textile industry in Punjab, likely to cause $1.3 billion per month export loss, retrenchment of 3.0 million workers and loss of opportunity arising out of much-likely GSP Plus status from the EU.
Further, he added, the country would be hit badly be street crime as well as high inflation in case no timely action is taken by the government and textile industry demand for gas supply is not met accordingly.
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* Shutting off gas supply to Punjab industries criticised:

Hosiery & Cloth Manufacturers, Textile Exporters & Processors and Yarn Merchants have strongly resented injudicious gas supply cut for indefinite period and called for an immediate restoration as textile industry is the only hope for the revival of country’s economy.

Talking to newsmen, Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association (Punjab & KPK Zone) Chairman Abaidullah Sheikh has expressed grave concern over total shut down of gas to Punjab industries.

He pointed out that neither the temperature has reached the freezing point nor the ice cold breeze has started to justify total shut down of gas by company. He further stated that the government had promised to ensure gas supply to industry in December for gaining optimum benefit out of forth coming European Union GSP plus facility but only ten days in to December the gas closure come a big shock to the industry.
read more.

* Textile ministry steps in, opposes gas outages:

 The Ministry of Commerce and Textile Industry has fiercely opposed suspension of gas supply to the textile industry, fearing textile manufacturers will not be able to cash in on the trade preferences expected to be granted by the European Union under the GSP Plus scheme from January next year.

The ministry is also apprehensive that as a result of the halt to gas supply, the textile industry in Punjab may lose $3 billion in export earnings in three months during winter, sources say.

In comments on the gas load management plan, which is to be approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the ministry said the textile value chain contributed 55% of exports and employed 39% of the industrial workforce.
read more.

* ‘Pakistan’s textile industry needs to increase exports’:

Pakistan is a big cotton producing country, but it lags far behind in the textile sector, and it is necessary to promote the textile industry in order to increase exports and strengthen the national economy, said Punjab state Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at the recently held International Textile and Clothing Conference (ITC 2013) in Lahore.
While addressing the concluding session of the ITC conference, the Punjab CM said the textile industry needs to be strengthened in order to increase exports and fully benefit from the expected Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status from the European Union (EU).
The textile sector of Pakistan is lagging behind Bangladesh and other neighboring countries, and in order to achieve due status among these textile producing countries, full attention needs to be given to the textile industry of the country which is very important for the economy, he added.
read more.

04:38:10 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Ugly truth behind banknotes:

KOMSCO Daewoo imports cotton produced by Uzbek forced labor

Even though Uzbekistan has reduced the amount of child labor used during its annual cotton harvest, activists say it continues to force adults and older children into the fields. The Korean government uses Uzbek cotton to make banknotes.
/ Courtesy of Cotton Campaign

On Sept. 10, the start of the cotton-picking season in Uzbekistan, the temperature in Tashkent soared to a scorching 38 degrees Celsius. As they do each year, citizens took to the fields to pick “white gold.”

In the Central Asian country, this is called “hashar” ― one’s national duty. But it’s far from voluntary.
Activists estimate that one million Uzbeks are compelled each year to fill cotton quotas in what the U.S. State Department refers to as “government-organized forced labor.”
Koreans may be surprised to find that some of that cotton literally ends up in their pockets.
Under a deal with the government of President Islam Karimov, the Korea Minting Security Printing and ID Card Corporation (KOMSCO) operates a factory outside Tashkent to manufacture cotton linter pulp, the material used in Korea’s banknotes.
read more.


* Growing awareness pushes demand for ethical textiles:

With the rise in demand for sustainable and organic products, several textile and apparel firms are focusing on ethical production process which covers a range of issues such as working conditions, child labor, fair trade and ethical production.

In a conversation with fibre2fashion, textile manufacturers share their views about sustainable textile value chain.
Mr. Siegfried Winkelbeiner, chief operating officer of Schoeller Textil, says, “The issue of ecological compatibility is an integral element in each development of the textile value chain. Innovation in product design and innovation in sustainability go hand-in-hand across the entire textile production chain.”
read more.

* WTO agrees to hold bi-annual discussion on cotton:

The Ninth Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), held in Bali, Indonesia, last week, has agreed to hold a dedicated discussion on cotton related issues, including cotton subsidies and improving market access for cotton products from least developed countries, bi-annually.
The Ministerial Decision on Cotton says the Ministers undertake to enhance transparency and monitoring in relation to the trade-related aspects of cotton. For this purpose, the Ministers agreed to hold a dedicated discussion on a bi-annual basis in the context of the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session to examine relevant trade-related developments across the three pillars of Market Access, Domestic Support and Export Competition in relation to cotton.
read more.


map of Asia


* Asean ‘still a key target for Japanese investment’

* EU-GSP+ scheme application submitted

* Grand Finale of the Radio Competition for Garment Workers on Cambodian
Labour Law

* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates

* Safety and security at work are basic rights

* RMG sector wants low cost loan to pay workers
* The bleak bend of RMG
* Textile industry seeks banking support to tide over crisis
* Muhith snubs RMG exporters’ plea for dollar incentive, to consider loan pack
* RMG to get stimulus package this month: Muhith
* Relaxed loan policy on way
* Apparel makers get Muhith’s assurance to demands
* Govt meets RMG buyers’ representatives today to boost confidence

* Trade union team to meet Manmohan
* Garment exports up 15% in April-Oct
* Apparel exports up 26% during Apr-Oct – Textile Minister
* Nov Indian garment exports post 21.29% growth
* Plea to restrict cotton exports

* Compliance of ILO convention at work-places urged
* Gas suspension : APTMA Punjab fears unbearable loss to textile industry
* Shutting off gas supply to Punjab industries criticised
* Textile ministry steps in, opposes gas outages
* ‘Pakistan’s textile industry needs to increase exports’

* Ugly truth behind banknotes

* Growing awareness pushes demand for ethical textiles
* WTO agrees to hold bi-annual discussion on cotton

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
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I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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