06:02:31 local time CHINA
* Vietnam as new destination of Chinese garment, textile companies:
Vietnam is seen as a new destination of Chinese garment and textile investment as since the end of 2013, up to 90 percent of businesses taking part in investment in the sector have come from China, local media reported.
In early March this year, northern Nam Dinh province issued investment license for Jiangsu Yulun Textile Group to build a factory of fabric, textile, dying with total registered capital of 68 million U.S. dollars, said Bao Cong Thuong (Industry and Trade News), an online newspaper under the ministry of industry and trade (MoIT) on Thursday.
Two others including China’s Hong Kong Luenthai Holdings and China’s Sanshui Jialida Textile Company are promoting investment activities in Nam Dinh province with total capital of nearly 400 million U.S. dollars.
Three other Chinese investors pledge to start their business in southern Ho Chi Minh City.
Pham Chi Lan, economist, was quoted by the Industry and Trade News on Thursday as saying that Vietnam welcomes Chinese companies to invest in garment and textile sector with modern technologies, not only bringing in economic efficiency but also meeting with standards of environment protection.
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05:02:31 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex, VNA to equitize in 2014:
Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) and Vietnam Airlines (VNA) are expected to equitize this year, according to the Party Committee of the Central Business Sector in Hanoi on April 2.
The report was made at a conference to restructure state-owned business by 2015. It was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh and Head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission Vuong Dinh Hue .
VNA is waiting for approval from authorized agencies for their completed evaluation reports, said VNA Director General Pham Ngoc Minh . They are expected to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in September 2014.
The Party Committee of the Central Business Sector comprises of 32 groups, corporations and banks. Twenty eight of them have devised restructure plans with 24 approved.
* French textile firms offer assistance:
Seven leading French textile-machinery companies met with executives of 100 local garment and textile firms in HCM City yesterday to seek business opportunities and offer technical solutions to local manufacturers.
Alexandre EA, head of UBIFRANCE in HCM City, said as one of the world leaders in textile-machinery manufacturers, French companies would provide their best solutions and innovations so that local textile-industry stakeholders could gain a competitive edge in the global market.
Speaking at a seminar held yesterday with the French businesses, Ho Thi Kim Thoa, deputy minister of Industry and Trade, said Viet Nam was negotiating important trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and free trade agreements with the EU, Korea and others countries that could result in a zero export tax for Vietnamese garment and textile products.
05:02:31 local time CAMBODIA
* Court denies rights defenders’ bail request once again:
This morning, Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied two separate bail requests for Vorn Pao and Sokun Sombath Piseth because the CC3 prison authorities had not provided the court with details of their health status, and to preserve public order.
Pao and Piseth are among the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested in early January. As supporters gathered outside the court state security forces again used heavy handed force to disperse them.
Piseth was denied his special medical request for bail release to undergo surgery on his hand. He was severely beaten and had his hand broken by state security forces during arrest. Due to the delay in providing appropriate medical care, his hand requires urgent surgery. Vorn Pao was also refused bail, previously denied at the Court of Appeal on February 11, and on March 24.
* Phnom Penh Court refuses to free prominent a protest leader Vorn Pov for the second time:
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday rejected again bail request by a protest leader, Vorn Pov.
During one-hour hearing, which was not allowed human rights activists and journalists to attend, the court rejected his bail request.
Anti-eviction and human rights activists were seen gathering outside the Phnom Penh court to demand the release of Vorn Pov and other 20 detained protesters who were arrested during violent clashes on January 2-3.
Am Sam Ath, senior official for human right group LICADHo, said that the court rejects Vorn Pov’s bail requests and another protesters’ bail request because of lack of documents.
* Illness, faintings after factory-funded meals:
About 150 garment workers fainted at two factories owned by the same firm in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district yesterday, after lunch provided to employees allegedly caused food poisoning.
Workers at the Shen Zhou and Daqian Textile factories, both owned by Shen Zhou Group and both suppliers to Puma, Adidas and Nike, began fainting at about 8am yesterday, Worker Friendship Union Federation president Seang Sambath said.
“I suggest the company examines the meals they provide workers, especially the chicken,” Sambath said yesterday. “The company must ensure hygienic meals.”
Many employees at Daqian, which accounted for about 100 of the faintings, started showing symptoms of food poisoning, including diarrhoea, soon after eating lunch on Tuesday, said Vey Srey Moa, a worker there.
* More Than 100 Workers Faint at Shenzhou Garment Factory:
More than 100 workers of Shenzhou garment factory in Phnom Penh fainted Thursday, one day after a similar mass fainting at the same factory.
The first workers fainted at about 8 a.m., setting off a chain reaction that sent the entire workforce running from the factory in fear. The Cambodian Legal Education Center, a rights group, said 118 workers were hospitalized.
“People started to have chest pains and stomachaches, and then, when the people started fainting, we all ran outside because we were so scared that the air was poisoned,” said Thy Thoeun, who fainted Wednesday and returned to work Thursday, only to carry her ill sister from the factory.
On Wednesday, 61 workers fainted at Shenzhou, which is in the Vattanac Industrial Park in Pur Senchey district.
* Hundreds of Cambodian garment workers faint:
At least 200 workers hospitalised after mass fainting at factories that make products for major sportswear companies.
More than 200 Cambodian garment workers have been hospitalised after episodes of mass fainting at three factories, highlighting problems within an industry that is critical to the kingdom’s fledgling economy.
The three factories make clothes for brands such as sportswear giants Puma SE and Adidas.
Puma and Adidas said they were investigating the incidents and would respond soon, a Reuters news agency report said.
Tainted food, poor working conditions and the spraying of insecticide are suspected causes, AFP news agency reported, citing Khim Sunsoda, deputy governor of Pur Senchey district, where the incidents happened.
“We don’t know why but one worker was sick and others just saw them and began to collapse,” district police chief Khem Saran told Reuters.
* 118 Cambodian garment workers faint in 2 factories:
At least 118 workers at two garment factories fainted on Thursday morning due to possible food poisoning, a local official said.
The workers had been sent to hospitals soon after the incidents and the rest of the workers in the two factories had been allowed to take a day-off, said Khim Sunsoda, deputy governor of Phnom Penh City’s Por Senchey district, where the incident occurred.
“We don’t know the exact reason of the mass fainting, but we suspected that they ate tainted food during a factory party at night because they also got diarrhea,” he said, adding that most of them have recovered after receiving medical treatment.
* Scores fall sick at Cambodian garment factories :
Scores of garment workers have fallen sick this week at factories in Cambodia, including two that produce clothing for sportswear groups Puma SE and Adidas, workers and the companies said on Thursday.
A total of 118 employees passed out at work on Thursday at the Shen Zhou and Daqian Textile factories in Phnom Penh, police said, another blow for an industry fraught with disputes but critical to Cambodia’s economy.
Garment manufacturing earns Cambodia more than $5 billion a year in revenue and employs some 600,000 people, many of them breadwinners for impoverished families in the countryside.
“It was hot and I began to vomit, I had diarrhea and others had the same problems,” said Nguon Sarith, 30, who was hooked up to an intravenous drip at a hospital in the capital.
She said she did not know the cause, but suspected it may have been food poisoning.
Labor rights group Community Legal Education Center said more than 200 workers had fainted this week.
Both Puma and Adidas said they were closely monitoring the situation while investigations were underway and affected staff had received medical treatment.
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* BetterFactories Media updates 4 April 2014, More than 100 workers faint at Shenzhou garment factory:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-04-04 Illness, faintings after factory-funded meals
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-04-04 More than 100 workers faint at Shenzhou garment factory
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
06:02:31 local time MALAYSIA
* Human Resources Ministry Wants Public Feedback On Minimum Wage – Riot:
Employers, workers and the public have been urged to provide feedback about the implementation of minimum wage before July.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem said this was neccessary so that he could bring up the suggestions at the National Wage Council meeting in July.
“I am asking the public including the employers and workers to come back to us with suggestions on how we can improve the minimum wage,” he said after launching ‘HR Risk Management Solution’, here today.
“Hopefully with this, we can ensure that the minimum wage can be fully implemented, and it must be a win-win situation.” he added.
06:02:31 local time INDONESIA
* Minimum Wage Increases, Labor Productivity Remains Low:
Hariyadi Sukamdani, Deputy Chief for Public, Fiscal, and Monetary Policies at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said that the minimum wage for laborers in Indonesia is too high and not equitable with laborers’ productivity.
“Compared to other countries in Asia, our minimum wage is higher but the productivity is lower,” he said on Thursday, April 3, 2014.
Based on sample data gathered by USAid and Bappenas in the shoe manufacturing industry, which considered to absorb a large number of workers and has export potentials, an Indonesian worker can only produce an average of 0.8 pair of shoes a day. On the other hand, the amount of minimum wage in 2013 had increased to US$242 per month from US$176 per month in 2012.
Meanwhile in Vietnam, with a minimum wage of US$140 per month, a worker can make a pair of shoes each day. In China, with a minimum wage of US$235 per month, a worker can finish 1.1 pair of shoes per day.
04:02:31 local time BANGLADESH
* Remembering Aminul Islam:
Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, tells the story of the disappearance, torture and murder of her friend and colleague Aminul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation’s local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka and a senior organizer with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity.
In this video, Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, reflects on the death of her friend and colleague Aminul Islam.
* Calling on the Government of Bangladesh to Reopen Investigation of Murder of Aminul Islam:
Dear Honorable Sheikh Hasina,
We write this letter to you on behalf of the ITUC, UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union, on the second anniversary of the murder of Aminul Islam, a leader of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS).
We condemned the torture and murder of Aminul Islam on 4 April 2012 in the strongest terms and have repeatedly called on your government to undertake a thorough investigation into his murder.
Strong evidence indicates that Aminul Islam was targeted for his indefatigable work
as a labour organizer and human rights advocate and that the perpetrators of this crime include members of the government security apparatus.
We are extremely disappointed that, two years later, so little progress has been made and no one has yet been held accountable.We therefore call on the government of Bangladesh to reopen the investigation to ensure that all of the perpetrators are identified, charged and brought to justice.
At a time when Bangladesh is seeking to regain its duty free status with the US government for non RMG exports, while maintaining the duty free status with the EU, the Bangladesh government would do well to address these concerns and demonstrate its commitment to basic human rights and a socially responsible garment industry by ensuring that Mr. Islam’s murder is fully investigated and his
The ITUC, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union remain fully committed to contributing to the development of a safe and sustainable textile and garment industry, which plays a major role in the Bangladeshi economy.
This requires full respect for international core labour standards, including the right to freedom of association and to bargain collectively, continued revisions of minimum wages to reach living wages, and the success of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, whose implementation is well underway.
Much work remains to be done by the government to realize these rights in law and in practice.
* Accord wants 6 more RMG units evacuated:
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the EU retailers’ platform, has found structural flaws in six more garment factories in Dhaka and Chittagong and suggested immediate evacuation of the units.
Flowing the recommendation, a review committee comprising representatives from the government, the Accord, the Alliance, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA, has started scrutinising the faults of the units.
The factories are Four Wings Ltd, Terry Pvt Ltd, All Weather Fashion, Elegant and Libas Textile in Dhaka and Mens Apparel in the Chittagong.
After getting the inspection outcome of the Accord teams, the review committee started its work from Wednesday and already visited the units of Four Wings Ltd, Terry Pvt Ltd and All Weather Fashion located in Dhaka, Syed Ahmed, inspector general of DIFE told New Age on Thursday.
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* RNB signs agreement for safer textile factories in Bangladesh:
The follow-up and development work will continue in parallel with the participation in Bangladesh Accord
The number of brand signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building and Safety in Bangladesh has now been increased up to 151 as RNB RETAIL AND BRANDS joins the retailer’s platform to attain the goal of a safe and sustainable Bangladesh ready-made garment industry.
We have made a decision to participate in the Bangladesh Accord as a complement to our own work of monitoring and improving our suppliers. Some of the questions we had about the practical application have now been cleared and we can conclude that the initiative evolved, and continues to evolve in a positive way, said a press statement issued by Camilla Sandberg, CSR Manager of RNB RETAIL AND BRANDS.
“We look forward to greater cooperation with other companies and organizations on this important issue,” said Sandberg.
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Bangladesh Accord) is an international initiative, which aimed at enhancing the safety of the apparel factories.
RNB has worked systematically for a long time with definition of requirements and monitoring of working conditions, including work environment and fire safety at factories and suppliers, reads the statement.
* 65 RMG, textile units fail to start production for want of gas supply:
Owners of more than 65 readymade garment (RMG) and textile units are facing bankruptcy as they have failed to start production in their factories for want of gas connections, industry insiders said.
The government has stopped providing new gas connections since March 2009 and later on in 2013 decided to resume the connection on a limited scale. But the connections which the garment and textile factories got are very nominal compared to the demand.
According to the statistics of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the total amount of default loans of such factories is around Tk 9.0 billion.
“I have set up a factory with the permission of the government, but now I am suffering miserably. The interest on my bank loan has been accumulating and I am becoming a loan defaulter gradually,” Ibrahim Khalil, a director of Azmi Fashion told the FE.
“I have invested Tk 500 million to set up the factory. But unfortunately, I can’t start operation even after more than two and a half years due to absence of gas connection even after paying all the amount required under the Demand Note and other purposes for gas connection,” he added.
“If it is not possible to give gas connection, then why did the government permit me to import machinery and set up the factory?” he questioned.
* GSP action plan review, easing rules of origin to top agenda:
TICFA meeting April 27-28
A review of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) Action Plan and relaxation of the rules of origin will top the upcoming TICFA meeting agenda, officials have said.
The meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) is scheduled to be held in Dhaka on April 27-28 for the first time since the signing of the deal between Bangladesh and the US.
The meeting was scheduled for April 7-8. But it was postponed as both sides got engaged in other businesses, sources said.
Bangladesh is expected to seek duty and quota-free access for all its products to the United States (US) market and also seek support of the latter in putting into effect the services-waiver facility for the least developed countries (LDCs) at the meeting.
Bilateral trade and investment issues involving the two countries will also get priority at the meeting, according to the ministry of commerce (MoC) sources.
US investment in Bangladesh, US proposals on GSP, the labour affairs committee and women’s economic empowerment issues will be discussed at the high-profile meeting, they said.
* Keep up progress to regain GSP:
It is vital that everything possible be done to implement the remaining items ahead of the progress report
We welcome the statements by the commerce minister and US Ambassador on Monday, indicating that satisfactory progress is being made towards complying with the conditions required to regain GSP (generalised system of preferences) status for Bangladesh’s exports to the US market.
The government reported in February that 13 out of the 16 conditions set had already been met, and that it expected to be able to move ahead with implementing the remaining items. It is vital that everything possible be done to move these forward ahead of the progress report due to be submitted to US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 15.
Regaining GSP would have huge symbolic value and provide a long-term boost to the economy.
* Leather goods exporters call for greater policy support:
Leather goods and footwear exporters yesterday urged the government to allow their trade body to issue utilisation declaration certificates in the next fiscal year to help them cut extra costs and avoid harassment.
“We want the same UD facility that garment trade bodies are enjoying to boost leather goods exports,” said M Abu Taher, chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters’ Association.
Such exporters are now importing raw materials—chemicals and shoe accessories—through supervised bond by paying a high charge, he said. The National Board of Revenue has recently increased the service fee of the supervised bond to Tk 6.04 lakh from Tk 1.88 lakh, according to the association.
His appeal came at a budget discussion with NBR Chairman Ghulam Hussain at the revenue authority’s head office in Dhaka.
A member of the association alleged that they have to pay Tk 3,000 to the offices of the Bond Commissionerate for every utilisation permission certificate, although there is no government processing fee for using the service.
“As a result, many companies are not being able to expand their business,” said Taher.
* Time to redefine ‘preparedness’:
This year, the day’s theme was ‘Durjoger nei dinkhon, prostut thakbo sarakhon’ (we shall be prepared always as disaster may strike at any time). The theme seems to contain the message that we cannot avoid disaster but can mitigate the risk by being prepared. It appears to have ignored the importance of measures that, if taken timely, can significantly prevent at least man-made disasters. Moreover, the call for preparedness is only for victims.
Let us take a critical look at two major events that have taken place since the last disaster preparedness day was observed — the Rana Plaza collapse and the tropical storm Mahasen.
The Rana Plaza collapse took place on April 24, 2013, when around 4,000 people were working in the apparel factories housed in the ill-fated building. Nearly 3,000 people were trapped under the debris of Rana Plaza.
It was the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh’s history, which claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people and injured and traumatised many others.
The incident drew huge media attention.
People from all over the world expressed their concerns over negligence by the building owners or the apparel factory owners.
As things stand, none of the workers would have died if the factory had remained closed after the detection of a major fault in the building the day before the incident occurred.
Workers were forced to work even after cracks had been identified and the BRAC Bank located in the same building had ceased to operate.
Rana Plaza has thus become a ‘symbol’ of poor compliance concerning workplace safety and security in the industrial sector.
THE TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Tazreen chairperson Mahmuda goes back to jail again:
A Judicial Magistrate’s Court in Dhaka on Thursday rejected bail petitions to Tazreen Fashions’ chairperson Mahmuda Akhter and booked her to jail.
She is facing charge of committing ‘homicide by negligence’ that had caused 111 deaths and injured 104 others, in a factory fire on November 24, 2012.
Senior judicial magistrate Kazi Shahidul Islam passed the order after Mahmuda surrendered before the court seeking bail. On March 20, Dhaka District and Sessions Judge’s Court canceled her bail plea and asked her to surrender to the judicial magistrate court within 15 days. She complied today.
On February 11, a judicial magistrate had, however, granted her conditional bail.
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THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Time is ticking:
Brands that were in Rana Plaza but have yet to pay up include:
Benetton; Auchan, Adler Modermarkt, Matalan and Texman.
You can see the full list here.
With just three weeks until the first anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza it is vital that we all call on brands to pay up – the survivors and families of victims have waited long enough.
Thank you for your continued support.
03:02:31 local time PAKISTAN
* Weavers, spinners divided on Indian yarn import:
The import of cheap Indian yarn in Pakistan has generated a divided response from the weaving sector and the spinning industry. While the latter appreciates its availability due to lower prices, the spinners are apprehensive and consider it a serious threat.
Owner of a leading spinning group of Faisalabad told Dawn that India expanded its capacity to hurt Pakistan economically by dumping its produce, forcing the key textile industry to crumble.
“In India, electricity is cheaper, and interest rates of banks and cost of doing business are low. There is no load-shedding of gas and electricity. How can the local spinning sector compete with India?” another businessman asked.
* Textile sector: funds released under mark-up support schemes:
The Ministry of Textile Industry (Mintex) has released funds to make payments during current financial year under Export Finance Mark-up Rate Facility and Mark-up Rate Support for textile sector against long-term loans.
A circular letter issued by the State Bank of Pakistan says that funds have been released for payment of 100 percent Export Finance Mark-up Rate Facility for the period 01-09-2010 to 28-02-2011, and for payment of 100 percent Mark-up Rate Support for textile sector against long-term loans for the period 01-03-2011 to 31-08-2011.
* Growth in cotton production slows to 3.86%:
The diminishing trend in phutti (seed cotton) arrivals witnessed since the second half of the current cotton season ultimately has its toll on overall cotton production which came down to 3.86 per cent against initial growth of over 15pc recorded earlier in the season.
According to official figures released by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA), around 13.385 million bales have been produced up to April 1, 2014 as against 12.888m bales harvested in the corresponding period last season.
Phutti arrivals started diminishing during second half of the season because of various factors. In Punjab, heavy rains and floods badly damaged standing cotton crop and in lower Sindh pest and virus attack caused extensive loss to the crop.
* Apparel park: $2 billion agreement signed with Chinese company:
The Punjab government on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Chinese company, Shandong Ruyi Group. Under the agreement, Shandong Ruyi Group will invest $2 billion in the Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park.
It will also provide expertise for design, plan and construction of the park.
The Chinese group and the Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) will jointly work on the project.
PIEDMC Chairman SM Tanvir and Shandong Ruyi Group Executive President Ms Arie Qiu signed the document at the chief minister’s house.
Earlier on the same day, a delegation of Shandong Ruyi Group and Huaneng Shandong led by Luan Shun had met the chief minister.
The Chinese group expressed interest in investment in the energy sector and expressed desire to set up two coal power plants of 660 megawatt in Sahiwal and two 135 megawatt plants in industrial estates.
They said they were also considering establishment of coal power plants near coal mines in the Salt Range.
* Zambian manufacturers cry for incentives to penetrate U.S market:
Manufacturers in Zambia have called on the government to provide them with incentives that will enable them penetrate the United States market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Times of Zambia reported on Thursday.
AGOA is a preferential access arrangement put in place by the American government to allow sub-Saharan African countries export selected products into that country duty free.
But according to a report published by the American Department of Commerce, Zambia failed to export a single product to the apparel market through AGOA in 2013.
Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) chief executive officer Maybin Nsupila said predictable economic policies were imperative if the country’s chances of penetrating the U.S. market under AGOA were to brighten.
The official said a predictable policy environment will be able to attract more investors in the textile sector which is the main source of exports to the AGOA market.