17:19:16 local time CHINA
* Chinese exporters calmly observe American flag ban:
China, the largest supplier of American flags, is unlikely to suffer heavy losses from a new ban on made-in-China flags in US military installations, Chinese manufacturers and industry observers have said.
“We have been actively expanding the domestic market for our products,” said Huang Baolian, manager of a craftwork company in Yiwu, the eastern Chinese city famous for its commodities market. “Besides, we also produce flags for a lot more countries.”
Statistics accessed from the United States Census Bureau website show that in 2012 the value of US imports of American flags stood at 3.8 million US dollars, the vast majority of which, or 3.6 million, was for flags made in China.
read more. & read more. & to read.
* Good scope for development of industrial textiles in China:
There is good scope for development of industrial textiles in China, according to industry experts.
16:19:16 local time CAMBODIA
* Protest Ban Firmly in Place on Women’s Day:
Freedom Park was placed under lockdown and a march by land rights activists was blocked Saturday morning as Phnom Penh’s security officials were out in force to ensure that peaceful rallies on International Women’s Day could not go as planned.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 25 indicated he had restored the constitutional freedom to assemble, overturning a January 4 protest ban instituted by the Ministry of Interior, but authorities have continued to break up demonstrations critical of the government, sometimes violently.
At about 7 a.m. Saturday, police began forming a perimeter of 2-meter tall metal barricades on the east and west sides of Freedom Park, and blocked roads entering the park from the north and south.
Shortly before 8 a.m., Daun Penh district’s extra-legal security guards, the black-helmeted men who have come to symbolize the government’s brute intolerance for public gatherings, began to chase away journalists and human rights observers who had gathered near the park.
The union leaders laid out their demands for a strike planned for the middle of this week: a $160 minimum wage, the release of 21 protesters who were imprisoned following the violent suppression of garment worker demonstrations in January, the prosecution of military police who shot dead five garment workers and injured at least 40 more and an end to legal intimidation of union leaders.
* After blockade, unions plot next move:
Union federations today will finalise their strategy for a stay-at-home strike scheduled to start on Wednesday, amid recent government and police suppression of union activity.
Unions will first meet individually to discuss whether they are willing to continue striking past the scheduled March 19 ending and whether the strike should consist only of workers staying home or involve workers showing up to factories but not performing their duties, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.
Leaders of the 18 union federations supporting the strike will then meet later today and agree on a definite plan.
“We have discussed among the 18 trade union [leaders], now we are … in the process of making sure with the workers,” Thorn said yesterday.
If unions stick to their schedule, the strike will start only days after authorities manned barricades around Freedom Park on Saturday, thwarting plans to hold an International Women’s Day forum, at which they planned to discuss the minimum wage and the continued detention of 21 activists and workers arrested at January demonstrations, among other garment industry issues.
By 7am on Saturday, municipal police and helmeted Daun Penh security guards stood watch in front of Freedom Park and side streets leading there. An hour later, the baton-wielding security guards herded the group of about 50 people gathered across the street from the Freedom Park blockade, blowing whistles and shouting at people while driving them back to the Naga Bridge.
* GMAC Applauds Government Decision to Screen Union Leaders :
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a statement on Friday applauding the Ministry of Labor’s decision to start requiring union leaders to prove that they have a clean criminal record before registering new branches.
“[GMAC] would like to express its high appreciation and support on the Royal Government, especially the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on positive action toward enforcement of the Cambodian Labor Law concerning union registration,” says the statement, posted to GMAC’s website.
The statement cites article 269 of the Labor Law, passed in 1997, which says that leaders of professional organizations, including labor unions, must not “have been convicted of any crime.” The law has not previously been enforced.
20140309 * Cambodian union activists end rally after banned from entering Freedom Park:
Hundreds of opposition-aligned trade union activists and workers terminated their outlawed rally on Saturday after heavy security forces had been deployed in and around the capital’s Freedom Park to prevent them from entering the Park to hold a forum on the International Women’s Day.
“Those activists ended the rally peacefully after having gathered for about two hours on a street near the Freedom Park because the authorities did not let them enter the Park to hold the forum,” said Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for a rights group. “There had been no any clash at the rally.”
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, one of the 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations, said at the event that the rally was to call for a wage increase for garment workers and the release of 21 protesters detained since January.
read more. & read more.
* BetterFactories Media updates 10 March 2014, GMAC applauds government decision to screen union leaders:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-10 After blockade, unions plot next move
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-10 Protest ban firmly in place on Women’s Day
2014-03-10 GMAC applauds government decision to screen union leaders
* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-10 A big American buyer expresses concerns over strikes for higher wage
BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
15:04:16 local time NEPAL
* ITC project to boost Pashmina exports of Nepali SMEs:
15:19:16 local time BANGLADESH
* 35 storerooms gutted in Tongi:
At least 35 storerooms of jute and cotton mills were gutted by a devastating fire that broke out in Tongi Mill Gate area early Monday.
Aktaruzzaman, deputy director of Gazipur Fire Service Station, said the fire originated from a market of Youngstar Co-operative Society in the area at about 12:30 am.
On information, seven fire fighting units from Dhaka, Tongi and Gazipur Fire Service Stations rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after three hours of frantic efforts.
However, the reason behind the fire could not be known yet.
The loss caused by the fire could not be known immediately.
to read. & read more. & to read.
* DEPZ sweater factory shuts in face of wage demand:
Helicon Ltd, a sweater factory employing around 1,400 workers in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ), was declared shut indefinitely following worker agitation yesterday.
The workers say they came to know of the shutdown after going to the factory to report for work in the morning, where they found a closure notice hanging on the factory’s main gate.
The Helicon management usually paid worker wages on the sixth of each month, but failed to do so on Thursday due to a fund crisis, which led to the workers to demonstrate, said Zahirul Islam, deputy director of Ashulia Industrial Police.
“This time, the workers will not be paid until March 11,” Islam said quoting a factory official.
The workers had demonstrated for payment and observed work-obstruction on Saturday as well.
* Female RMG workers stress education to attain full potentials:
Most female readymade garments workers have identified lack of safety, access to education, unawareness of labour rights and health insecurity as the major hurdles in attaining their highest potential in the sector.
The workers shared their experience and recommendations at a programme titled – “Lives Beyond Machines – A reflection on priorities for women in the RMG sector” — to celebrate International Women’s Day held at the capital’s Cirdap auditorium yesterday.
Jointly organised by CARE Bangladesh, the European Union, Austrian Development Cooperation and Sheva Nari O Shishu Kallyan Kendra, the programme was attended by around a hundred RMG workers.
* EU not ‘happy’ over steps taken in ensuring labour rights:
The European Union (EU) is fully ‘not satisfied’ over the steps taken so far in ensuring labour rights, safety and improving working conditions in the vital readymade garment (RMG) sector, said EU Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna on Sunday.
“No, I’m not satisfied. There’s been some progress and lot more needs to be done as we talk about sustained production,” he told reporters after attending a function at Cirdap auditorium in the city.
Care Bangladesh arranged the event, titled ‘Lives beyond Machines – A Reflection on Priorities for Women in the RMG Sector’ under its project Solidarity and Empowerment through education, Motivation and Awareness (SEEMA) funded by the EU.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* EU delegation head in BD dismayed at lack of progress in labour safety:
Compensation for Rana Plaza victims
The head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Dhaka Ambassador William Hanna on Sunday raised the issue of the non-payment of Rana Plaza victims’ compensation and the required safety measures on the eve of the first anniversary of the country’s biggest ever industrial disaster.
He said that he was ‘not satisfied’ fully with the progress in the steps taken so far on the workers’ safety and rights in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector.
“…Where are the compensations? Did the victims get the compensations? I think not,” he said replying to journalists’ queries on the sidelines of a Women’s Day celebration event in Dhaka with garment workers.
Care Bangladesh organised the celebration programme in association with the EU and the Austrian Development Cooperation at the city’s CIRDAP (Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and Pacific) auditorium. The event was titled ‘Lives beyond Machines – A Reflection on Priorities for Women in the RMG Sector’ organised under the project Solidarity and Empowerment through Education, Motivation and Awareness (SEEMA) funded by the EU.
Country Representative of UN Women Christine Hunter and Care Bangladesh Country Director Jamie Terzi were also present.
The EU ambassador said Bangladesh would face ‘uncomfortable questions’ from the global community, as it completes one year of the Rana Plaza collapse, about compensation and safety issues.
* EU not happy with factory safety efforts:
The European Union is not satisfied with the progresses Bangladesh has made to improve workplace safety in the apparel industry following the Rana Plaza building collapse last year, its envoy in Dhaka said yesterday.
Progresses in terms of the payment of compensation to the Rana Plaza victims, free association of workers and implementation of minimum wages are not satisfactory, William Hanna, ambassador of the EU delegation, said.
“A few changes are happening. But lots of things need to be done,” he told reporters after a programme “Lives beyond machines — a reflection on priorities for women in the RMG sector” organised by CARE Bangladesh at Cirdap auditorium in the city.
The programme was arranged to showcase the features of a CARE project for garment workers — Solidarity and Empowerment through Education, Motivation and Awareness (SEEMA) funded by the EU.
* RMG makers, buyers in fresh row:
Workers’ wage benefit during production suspension
Local apparel manufacturers and buyers have been locked in a fresh row over payment of wage benefits to workers during the suspension of productions in non-compliant factories following the ongoing safety assessment initiative, industry insiders said.
Labour leaders and a section of manufacturers, however, fear a fresh labour unrest in the readymade garment (RMG) sector unless the issue is resolved shortly.
The present dispute has emerged following the suspension of production of a garment factory Softex Cotton Pvt Ltd, for at least three months as per instruction of the Accord’s inspection team and official review committee.
The workers of the Softex Cotton staged demonstration Saturday demanding payment after they found a notice hung at the factory gate declaring the unit closed on the ground of risky state of its building.
Apparel leaders claimed that the factory owners are not in a position to pay wage benefits for three months while the Accord representative said the factory owner is responsible for payment of its workers’ wages.
The Accord, the largest platform of retailers, brands, trade unions and companies, in its assessment found serious structural flaws in Softex Cotton building and later the official review committee including representative from the Accord, last week asked the factory owner to suspend production in its four floors until retrofitting.
* Ministry, factory owners flay European, US retailers:
The commerce minister and owners of apparel factories on Sunday lambasted European and North American retailers over their safety action and observed that a strong international conspiracy was on to harm Bangladesh’s apparel export.
‘A lobby is working against Bangladesh’s economy to harm our export business as the country is moving ahead fast,’ the commerce minister, Tofail Ahmed, said as he spoke at an exchange of views with apparel factory owners in the BGMEA auditorium on the current situation of the apparel sector
He said that industrial accidents were a common phenomenon across the world and they were happening in developed countries such as the United States but Accord and Alliance –– platforms of European Union and North American retailers –– were preaching workplace safety in Bangladesh.
A deep conspiracy is taking place in the apparel sector to arrest the export growth as the country has accomplished ‘an attractive export growth’ in a couple of years, Tofail said.
‘If necessary, the government will form a multi-sectoral committee composed of representatives from Accord, Alliance, the International Labour Organisation and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association to resolve the problems.
Otherwise, in the name of safety inspection, frequent closure of apparel factories will encourage worker unrest,’ the minister said.
* Garment owners seek more time to fix flaws:
Garment makers yesterday called upon the factory inspectors of Accord and Alliance not to close any unit if faults are found during inspection.
Factory owners also requested the inspectors to give them time to fix the flaws.
A number of factories were shut for failing to withstand safety checks since February 20 when the inspection began, the garment makers said at a meeting at the office of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Dhaka.
Many owners could not pay salaries and arrears to their workers and were losing work orders from international buyers as their factories were closed down without giving them any time, they said.
During an inspection on Saturday, the engineers of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of 150 retailers and brands, asked the owner of Softex Cotton Private Ltd in Mirpur to shut down the unit immediately.
Last week, Accord engineers also asked the authorities of Jeans Care in Tejgaon to close the factory as some flaws were detected in the building.
However, the Jeans Care factory was reopened later following suggestions by a review panel on the inspection that the unit will take some corrective measures right away.
More than 40% of the garment factories in Bangladesh will have be closed down if the inspection goes on in the present manner, a factory owner said at the meeting where Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed was also present.
* RMG subcontractors fear factory shutdown as CM charge not hiked:
The factories that make garments in sub-contracts fear factory closures as buyers have not increased making charges following the new wage structure was introduced.
Payment of wages has become a difficult challenge for them, the owners said, adding supply orders have also fallen.
The subcontracting factories cut and make garments in contracts and are paid for it, which is known as cutting and making (CM) charge.
Of the payment made by the buyers for a manufactured product, the subcontractors get 40-50% while the exporters receive the remaining part.
Around 1,200 factories do such jobs in Bangladesh employing nearly 10 lakh workers, said Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
* RMG owners burst out Accord and Alliance inspection:
Tofail tames them with assurance to form multi-stakeholder committee to solve the crisis
Apparel manufactures have come down heavily on the inspection being conducted by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker safety as some of the factory owners fear shutdown of their units following their strict check-up.
They came up with their anger at a meeting titled “Sharing of Views on Current Scenario of RMG Sector” at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) office in the city yesterday.
The meeting was aimed at exchanging views with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on the latest conditions prevailing in the country’s apparel sector.
Tofail, however, tried to calm down the agitated RMG owners just saying: “We would soon be able to sort out the crisis by forming a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of BGMEA, BKMEA, ILO and related ministries.”
* Tofail urges exporters to remain alert against conspiracy:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today called upon the garment entrepreneurs to remain cautious as a deep-rooted international conspiracy is being hatched against the country’s export that is heavily dependent on garments.
“International lobby is working against us just to hinder Bangladesh’s export growth,” Tofail told a seminar on ‘RMG Industry’s Present Condition’, arranged by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at its conference room here.
BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam presided over the seminar when former presidents of the trade body — Mostafa Golam Quddus, Tipu Munshi, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, — and acting president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Mohammed Hatem also spoke on the issue.
A number of garment manufacturers, who suffered from the move of the Accord of the UK and Alliance of USA, shared their experiences and sought the government’s intervention to help them keep factories functional.
* Tofail smells conspiracy to destroy RMG industry:
Conspiracy is going on to destroy the country’s fledging Readymade Garment (RMG) sector, said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday.
Addressing a seminar on the present state of the country’s RMG industry, the minister said that some vested quarters in home and abroad had become envious of the country’s success in RMG sector and hatching conspiracy to destroy the sector. “Starting with a tiny export amount of $ 200 million in 1972-73, the country is now exporting goods worth about $ 27 billion, which is targeted to reach $ 30.5 billion in the current fiscal has made some competing countries envious to us” said the minister.
Comparing with Pakistan Tofail said that the country’s export crossed $27 billion and forex reserves also crossed $ 19 billion while Pakistan export is still below $ 24 billion and reserve less than $10 billion. Moreover, the country is now self sufficient in food production and all these have made Bangladesh “an apple of discord” to the eyes of neighbouring countries.
* RMG makers worried over strict safety requirements of monitors:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed Sunday assured the apparel makers of addressing the problems, especially those which have emerged centring on the ongoing factory inspection programme.
“We will sit shortly with the concerned stakeholders, to identify the problems and they will be resolved one by one,” the minister said at a view-exchange meeting held at the BGMEA headquarters in the city.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised the view-exchange on the present scenario of the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, at which BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam and its office bearers, former presidents Mostafa Golam Quddus, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, Abdus Salam Murshedy, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) acting president Md Hatem, among other manufacturers, were present.
The minister also assured those present of taking necessary measures to meet their demands for arranging funds for the Garment Palli (village) and duty exemption from safety equipment.
* RMG retailers’ alliance to start inspection Wednesday:
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of 27 North American retailers and brands, will start garment factory inspections on March 12.
Mesbah Rabin, managing director at Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, said seven teams will inspect more than 400 factories.
Although the Alliance is supposed to inspect more than 600 factories, Wal-Mart, a major retailer in the Alliance, has already completed inspections of 200 factories.
“If the expert panel accepts the reports on the previously inspected 200 factories, it will not be necessary to re-inspect. In that case, the Alliance will inspect only 400 factories,” Rabin told The Daily Star by phone yesterday.
Earlier, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh started inspecting nearly 1,600 factories on February 20.
Another 30 teams of experts led by Bangladesh University and Engineering and Technology also started inspections on November 21 last year.
* IAF, BKMEA & HCIA collaborate on EU funded Bangla project :
* BGAPMEA may get UP, import entitlement authority:
Prime Minister’s Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman Sunday assured taking steps to provide utilisation permission (UP) and import entitlement authority to the Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAPMEA).
He said the finance minister in 2012 directed the ministry concerned to hand over UP certification authority from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to BGAPMEA. But the directive is yet to be implemented.
* HK-Bdesh JV to set up garment accessories plant in Adamjee EPZ:
A Hong Kong-Bangladeshi joint venture (JV) plant is going to invest US$ 10 million for establishing a garment accessories industry in Adamjee Export Processing Zone (Adamjee EPZ).
The company, M/S Euro-A Zipper Co (BD) Ltd, will produce 22 million pieces of zipper, 20 million pieces of metal button and 2.0 million pieces of buckle annually which will also create employment opportunities for about 1,318 Bangladeshi nationals, said a Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) press release Sunday.
* Jessore Jute Mill facing fund crunch:
Financial crisis hampers production in Jessore Jute Industries, the second biggest state-owned jute mill.
According to the project director, Mujibar Rahman Mallick,, production has now come down to 16 to 18 tonnes from 28 to 30 tonnes a day. As a result, 158 workers had to be retrenched in the last two months.
The project director further said that production in the mill could hardly continue for a week with the raw materials now in stock.
The manager (purchase), Md Mohiuddi, said about Tk 9 crore has fallen outstanding to suppliers of raw jute. They have already stopped supplying due to nonpayment of arrear bills. Besides, jute goods worth Tk 32 crore are lying unsold in the warehouse.
‘We have asked for allocation of Tk 200 crore from the government through the BJMC to overcome the crisis,’ the project director said.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Bangladesh may face uncomfortable questions from global community:
Bangladesh would face uncomfortable questions from the global community as the first anniversary of the tragic Rana Plaza collapse is approaching, Head of EU Delegation in Dhaka ambassador William Hanna said Sunday.
He said two members of European parliament would visit Dhaka in two weeks to look into the factory issues.
Ambassador Hanna said that he himself was not satisfied with the progress achieved until now by Bangladesh’s apparel industry on workers’ safety and rights.
‘Change is happening but it has to be continued and more needs to be done,’ Hanna told reporter on the sidelines of the International Women’s Day celebrations by CARE in the city.
To mark the day a discussions on ‘Lives Beyond Machines: A reflection on Priorities for Women in the RMG sector’ was organized under CARE’s Project for Solidarity and Empowerment through Education, Motivation and Awareness.
* Labour Start launch petition calling on brands to Pay Up:
With the survivors and families of victims of Rana Plaza still waiting for global brands to Pay Up! Global trade unions are joining the Pay Up campaign and have launched a petition on Labour Start.
You can sign the petition here.
The petition calls on brands including :
Adler Modemarkte, Auchan, Ascena Retail, Benetton, C&A, Carrefour, Cato Fashions, Children’s Place, Grabalok, Gueldenpfennig, Kids for Fashion, KiK, LPP, Manifattura Corona, Matalan, NKD, Premier Clothing, Primark, PWT, Walmart and Yes Zee.
To stop dragging their heels and to pay up into the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund before the first anniversary of the terrible collapse on April 24th.
Read more about the Pay Up campaign.
14:49:16 local time INDIA
* The wheel of revolution:
Former Chief Minister of Delhi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal was in Gujarat last week. Keeping political reasons aside, what caught one’s attention was the picture of him trying his hand at the spinning wheel in Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram.
The Khadi played a great role in shaping India. Does today’s generation just brush aside Khadi as a thing of the past? Do we know khadi enough to harness its efficiency to the fullest?
What is Khadi?
This handspun and handwoven cloth is made out of cotton. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are the three major countries were Khaddar (other term for khadi) is made. Sometimes silk or wool are used to make khadi which are later spun into yarn on the spinning wheel (charkha). Can you believe that this wonder fabric can keep us cool in summer and warm in winter?!
Khadi in Indian History
Khadi played an important role in the Indian independence movement headed by Gandhiji. It would be right to term it as a movement. At this time when lot of noise is made about eco-friendly stuff, Khadi is the right solution. The production of this fabric is done keeping the environment in mind. Gandhiji promoted khadi then because he saw it as a way to increase employment in the non-agricultural sector. He wanted to make Indians understand that they could be self-reliant on cotton and be free from the high-priced foreign goods.
Khadi is the most sustainable and eco-friendly product which does not use any electrical support. It is the only textile activity which does not utilize fossil fuel. Did you know that production of one metre khadi fabric consumes three litres of water whereas a conventional textile mill would need 55 litres?
The production of khadi does not generate any toxic waste products. In the States of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, organic khadi is produced by avoiding all chemicals in the processes of farming of cotton, weaving and dyeing.
14:19:16 local time PAKISTAN
* Labour in a limbo:
In the wake of the GSP+ status, labour laws have all of a sudden become a relevant issue for the state and those running its affairs.
However, lawyers, labour leaders, workers and a cross-section of society blame poor enforcement of labour laws on the government, the inspection mechanism and partly on relevant courts that generally fail to provide relief to the working class.
The number of unionised workers is on the decline in Pakistan because 95 per cent of the workforce has no appointment letters which is mandatory to establish the identity of a factory worker, said labour leader Nasir Mansoor. Railway Workers Union’s Manzoor Razi said the labour movement had weakened because labourers got divided on ethnic, sectarian and political grounds.
Leading lawyer Abid Hassan Manto was of the view that there was a need for specific laws for safety of textile sector workers, like those working underground or in mines.
The grant of GSP+ was a good omen, but the country had to bring its house in order to avoid any possible restrictions as was the case with Bangladesh, he warned.
A majority of the labourers interviewed criticised the failure of the government to get the country’s laws and international conventions implemented. Human Resource personnel were tailoring anti-worker strategies which were ultimately being contested in courts of law. Formation of trade unions has legal cover and the issuance of a formal appointment letter is obligatory, but they continue to be violated, argued the labourers.
Labour leader Kaneez Fatima pointed out that although Pakistan had ratified ILO and UN conventions, there was no permanent labour force in any textile unit of Faisalabad.
* Textile keeps eyes wide open:
Contrary to the general perception of massive gains in the offing, a realistic assessment suggests GSP+ may translate into a gain of merely $1.2 billion per annum in terms of monetary growth in exports.
Under EU regulation, no country enjoying concessional export scheme can cross the threshold of two per cent of the EU’s total imports originating from 89 countries.
In case of any violation or exceeding the limits given in the threshold for each item in terms of volume and value, a country stands to be excluded from the scheme. Previously, Pakistan was unable to get the GSP+ status as it had crossed the threshold that was in practice at the time.
Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) Chairman Mohammad Jawed Bilwani said that undoubtedly many international conventions have to be met by individual manufacturers in their establishments, but even today a large number of manufacturers-cum-exporters are already ILO-compliant and honour UN conventions. He said exporters regularly undergo auditing from world-reputed firms like SGS, WRAP etc. and get relevant certifications.
“However, I am fearful about the shortcomings on the part of the government which seems to be still not prepared to face the situation,” he said. Citing an example, Mr Bilwani said that even today there is no system in place to monitor day-to-day exports to EU so that figures are compared with that of last year.
* Development of Punjab textile sector: Chinese group to help set up modern apparel park: Shahbaz:
Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that government is striving for industrial development, solution of energy crisis and strengthening of economy and its efforts are yielding positive results.
He said that the $32 billion investment package announced by China would be implemented expeditiously and projects would be launched in infrastructure, energy, transport and other sectors.
He said that growing trade co-operation between China and Pakistan is resulting in strengthening of their friendship.
* New levies to deprive exporters of GSP+ advantage: Prgmea:
Prospects for value-added textile growth under GSP Plus status are gradually dimming as local textile products are forecast to turn uncompetitive in EU markets in the wake of government’s ‘imprudent’ duty and taxation policy for the sector and India’s big tax relief to its exporters, industry sources said on Saturday.
Exporters termed the government plans to impose five percent tax on imports of cotton yarn and to increase sales tax, for value-added textile sector, to five percent as ‘hostile’ policies. “The government is turning the GSP Plus advantage dead through its taxation policies,” they criticised.
On the contrary India gives seven percent tax relief to textile exporters for EU and US markets, they said, adding that “Indian exporters will have now two percent tax relief under Duty Credit Scrip (DCS) to land their goods in EU and US markets, an increase of five percent in rebate, cumulatively a seven percent relaxation”.
* PTEA for grant of special status to export-oriented textile industry:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has strongly called upon the government to bring necessary reforms and give special status to export-oriented textile industry allowing zero rating facility to achieve desired goal from the duty-free access to European markets under Generalised System of Preference (GSP) plus scheme.
Talking to newsmen, Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, Chairman and Adil Tahir, vice chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association said that up to February 2013, there was no deduction of sales tax which has to be refunded by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) at later stage.
The system is causing corruption and also long delays in getting refund payments which ultimately created liquidity crunch for export trade, they said.
If the government wants that the GSP-Plus scheme is fully utilised, it should immediately revert back to previous system of zero rating of export-oriented textile industry which would mean no deduction and no payment of sales tax refund and this will also ensure cash flow for industry to meet export contracts, they asserted.
Export oriented textile sector should be given special status by separating it from other industrial sectors, they added.
* Hurting interests: Export Development Fund – a slush fund? :
The WTO regime prohibits export subsidies, and yet countries find ways, sometimes not so ingenious, to do so. Yes, legal battles ensue, most notably between the US and the EU, and, indeed, Indian export subsidies provide ammunition to the opponents of normalised trade relations with India, but often a challenged subsidy is replaced by a more invidious one. Life goes on.
There is sufficient empirical evidence to suggest that export subsidies do more harm than good to a country’s long-term export interests. They create distortions, and more importantly, provide perverse incentives that make an exporter’s focus shift from product and market development to rent-seeking.
In Pakistan’s case, we do not have the fiscal space to subsidise our exports. Where we do, refunds and reimbursements lose out to more pressing demands that the depleted government coffers are already straining to meet – after all, there are limits to borrowing from banks or printing notes.
* Textiles termed weak for free trade :
The Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Punjab) SM Tanveer said Pakistan’s textile industry is not ready for trade liberalisation with India.
The industry is reeling under insecure environment. He said India first strengthened its textile industry for global competition and is now ready for trade.
Addressing members of the Lahore Economic Journalists Association, he said, “We have inherent strength to take on the stiffest competitor in the world,” he said, adding the industry simply needs level-playing field.
“We are operating without any government support,” he said. He added there is neither a relief in interest rate, nor are our exports zero-rated. “After we got GSP Plus status, India increased export subsidy to their textile exporters by three percent,” Tanveer said. He said that the Aptma would present the government strategy to double the textile exports in next five years.