01:59:47 local time CHINA
* Shanghai enjoys highest minimum wage in China:
15 provinces or cities have recently raised their minimum wage, and Shanghai enjoys the highest monthly minimum wage and hourly minimum wage, 1,820 yuan and 17 yuan respectively, according to a report from Chinanews.com.
The minimum wage of the class-Aregions of eastern China’s Jiangxi Province stands at 1,390 yuan, an increase of 160 yuan from last year. The minimum wage in Southwestern Guizhou Provinceis 1,250 yuan, and in northern Inner Mongolia 1,500 yuan.
The 15 provinces or cities include Sichuan Province, Chongqing Municipality, Shannxi Province, Shandong Province and Shenzhencity. (One US dollar=6.2 yuan)
01:59:47 local time PHILIPPINES
* Philippine-EFTA FTA negotiations include high-level commitments:
The planned comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is expected to have a semblance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal as it could incorporate high level ambitions in the areas of competition, environment, procurement and intellectual property.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of the 1st Philippines-Switzerland Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting held at the Board of Investments (BOI) the planned FTA may include high level commitments similar to the TPP, which is being touted as a landmark 21st century agreement.
“Modern FTAs already have these components,” said Cristobal when asked if the PH-EFTA FTA will have high level commitments like the TPP deal. The high level goals in the TPP include commitments in the areas of competition, environment, procurement, intellectual property, among others.
00:59:47 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex delays domestic IPO to September:
* Dong Nai’s exports to the US grow steadily:
Exports of Dong Nai to the US should stay strong in the near future as the US economy is rebounding well, forecast Le Van Danh, Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade (DoIT).
- Dong Nai sees 15.8 percent rise in exports
- Dong Nai attracts US$600 million in FDI
- Dong Nai eyes accessing US market
Danh also forecast that garment and footwear items will be the leading export products to the market.
00:59:47 local time CAMBODIA
* After Factory Ignores Ruling, Garment Workers to March:
Employees of the Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district continued to protest Monday against management’s decision to ignore an Arbitration Council ruling on owed wages.
Cheng Chhorn, secretary general of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the workers will march to the Labor Ministry today, and may also petition Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet, which usually means a brief meeting with a cabinet representative at Wat Botum Park.
“Almost certainly we will march to Hun Sen’s cabinet because representatives of the Labor Ministry give us nothing,” he said.
The Arbitration Council ruled last week that employees of the factory—which suspended operations in May due to a lack of orders—were each entitled to $120 furlough pay.
* Unions to stick with push for $160 wage:
The majority of union representatives attending a minimum wage forum yesterday favoured pushing for a $160 floor wage for Cambodia’s garment sector next year.
“Why don’t we set [minimum wage] at $160? That’s what we’ve been advocating for,” asked Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.
Few of the government or factory-affiliated unions invited to the meeting organised by the independent Cambodian Union Confederation (CLC) attended yesterday’s event, and those who showed up remained silent when the wage issue arose.
Sina and others seemed to take little note of CLC president Ath Thorn asking about a back-up offer in case those attending next week’s official conference held by the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) pushed for less.
“Why don’t we ask them to do it in 2014? Why let them exploit us longer?” Workers Friendship Union Federation president Seam Sambath said.
* Trade Unions Approve Minimum Wage, Draft Law Proposals:
Representatives from 25 trade unions Monday sent a request to the Ministry of Labor seeking several changes to a controversial draft union law and asking that a new $160 monthly minimum wage for the country’s volatile garment sector take effect in October.
Garment factory owners say the current preponderance of unions makes it nearly impossible to effectively negotiate with workers. Unions not aligned with the ruling CPP fear the new law would further tighten what they consider an already restrictive environment for independent trade groups.
“With this law, employers will be able to violate workers’ rights legally if some provisions are not changed,” Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said during Monday’s meeting. “Unions have the right to complain already, so why do we need this law?”
Mr. Thorn, who heads the largest independent trade union in the country, would like to see the government scrap its plans for the law altogether. The request the unions passed Monday, however, simply recommends several changes to the draft.
01:59:47 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. Companies obligated to pay Festivity Allowance (THR) 7 days before Lebaran.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
2. BPJS Pension Fund Premium to be paid by worker and employers.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
3. Textile Industry Asks Electricity Rate Reviewed. Read the full article here .
4. Union slams Government over Social Security Plan. Read the full article here.
5. Textile industry; maximizing competitiveness opportunities.
Read the full article here.
6. Industry Ministry eyes moderate tariff cuts in RCEP. Read the full article here.
7. Govt’ Predicts Economy to Grow 5.3 Percent in Second Quarter.
Read the full article here .
BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates overview here.
23:59:47 local time BANGLADESH
* 500 garment units facing problems in paying salary, bonus:
Nearly 500 garment factories are under watch of the industrial police as the units are still not ready to pay worker salary and bonus before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The industrial police have prepared a list of such factories in five zones — Dhaka, Chittagong, Savar, Narayanganj and Ashulia — and are holding meetings with owners to avert any untoward incident.
Owners of many factories are yet to pay salaries of June, though workers demand salaries of July and festival bonus before the 20th of Ramadan, Abdus Salam, director general of industrial police, said yesterday.
Workers of some factories have already staged demonstrations for salary and bonus, he said.
“Many owners have agreed to pay festival bonus and 15 days’ salary of July before Eid,” Salam said.
The workers are also bargaining for additional leave during the festival as many will go to their villages, but the owners are against granting such leave due to strict lead-time, Salam said.
However, Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the number of vulnerable factories that are struggling to pay salaries would be around 250.
The BGMEA is keeping close watch on these factories, Azim said.
“Initially, the number of such factories was around 1,000. We negotiated with the owners and many of them agreed to pay the workers now,” he said.
Azim said many factories might not be able to pay salaries of two months and bonus at one go, but may pay salaries of June, 15 days of July and the festival bonus.
* Inspections a blessing for garment factories:
Alan Roberts of Bangladesh Accord Foundation explains why assessment is necessary to improve workplace safety standards
Bangladesh should take the ongoing garment factory inspections by the engineers of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh positively, as the initiative has been taken to strengthen the sector’s safety standards.
The Accord recommended the review panel to order to close 18 factories, housed in four buildings. The review panel closed only 12 out of the 875 factories inspected as of yesterday.
The numbers indicate that the risk factor of the buildings is not as serious as thought after the Rana Plaza collapse, Alan Roberts, executive director for international operations of Bangladesh Accord Foundation, said in an interview.
“This is a very important positive message for the garment sector of Bangladesh,” Roberts said.
Engineers of the Accord, a platform of 180 retailers and brands, mainly European, have performed three kinds of inspections, including fire, electrical and structural checks in 1,600 garment factories.
The formal inspection of the factories began on February 20.
“Bangladesh is still very competitive to the international retailers and brands, and it will continue to be so for a long time,” said Roberts, who previously served as a global sourcing director for some international retailers in the country since 1986.
The steady growth of garment exports despite domestic odds such as Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire indicates that the sector remained insulated from all internal and external adversaries.
Easily trainable and abundant cheap labour is another important factor for higher growth of garment items in Bangladesh, Roberts said.
The salaries of garment workers are still low compared to other countries, even after the hike in December last year, he added.
Roberts explained the recent criticism of inspection by different corners. He said many people, including garment makers, are saying that the inspection is a conspiracy to destroy the sector.
“It is absolutely false and wrong conception of the people as we are very transparent in our operations,” he said. For maintaining its transparency and credibility, the Accord publishes its major findings on its website, so that the people can see those easily.
Moreover, after the completion of any factory’s inspection, the Accord engineers suggest a corrective action plan to the garment makers on the spot, so that the unit can continue production, he said.
“The conspiracy theory is complete nonsense. There is absolutely no conspiracy in the inspections.”
* Remittances and growing rural inequality:
It is a piece of good news that readymade garment (RMG) exports hit record $25 billion in the immediate past fiscal year.
This might upset the doomsayers who had forecast almost a forced exit of Bangladesh from the international market following the Rana Plaza devastation. However, competitive prices of Bangladeshi products and a higher demand in foreign countries might have produced the positive result.
If remittances flow too remains stable, then Bangladesh would see a leap forward in economic growth and poverty reduction. In this write-up, based on a survey of 62 villages, we have attempted to examine the demographic characteristics of rural households falling into three groups:
a) households which did not have any migrant member, i.e., non-migrant household, b) households with at least one member working overseas and sending remittances (overseas or foreign migrant household), and
c) households with members living in cities, towns and other districts (domestic migrant household).
* Clothing the world:
This welcome growth was made possible through concerted efforts by both the government and the private sector
Exports of Bangladeshi readymade garment (RMG) products to non-traditional markets rose by a respectable 21% during the fiscal year of 2013-14, with countries such as Australia, Chile, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey importing more and more of our RMG products.
This is exceptional news for a sector of our country which cannot claim to have had a stable business climate recently.
While our RMG sector’s export roots are still planted fairly firmly in the United States and Europe, it is encouraging to see its market expand to the more exotic parts of the latter and the steadily burgeoning continents of South America, Africa, and of course our own Asia.
This welcome growth was made possible through concerted efforts by both the government and the private sector, which again proves itself instrumental in advancing the country’s development, towards diversifying our RMG products and reducing dependency on the bigger, more traditional destinations.
However, we cannot interpret this one pleasant turn of events as a signal for complacency, treating it instead like a beacon of inspiration.
There is no reason for that number to not be 35% or even 75%.
More can, and needs, to be done. With the right amount of collaborative effort, we can easily have the image of our country’s RMG sector experience a drastic, positive turnaround.
* On labour unrest in RMG:
A news item published in the Financial Express on Monday expressing fear that labour unrest is looming large in a large number of garment factories in Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong makes our heart ache.
The report, quoting the industrial police, said a kind of commotion is in the offing over payment of wages and festival bonus ahead of Eid.
RMG is the backbone of our economy, and we have witnessed a lot of disorder in this sector causing much damage not to the investors only but to our national economy as well.
The country’s image was also tarnished.
Having overcome a turbulent period, stability has been restored in the country’s RMG industries.
Foreign buyers are back, and the factories are busy with their production.
The government and the factory owners must look into the problems if there is any and take measures to address them.
Our economy can not afford to suffer any more.
23:29:47 local time INDIA
* Mean and petty labour reforms:
Even decades after independence, the introduction of a ‘secret ballot’ for labourers to recognise trade unions remains elusive
The National Democratic Alliance government, on June 5 and June 17, notified the proposed amendments to the Factories Act, 1948 and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
Given that the process of amendments began in 2008 and went through a number of expert committees, one would have expected the amendments to be carefully thought-out. On the contrary, they are petty, anti-labour and poorly conceived.
Given also that these are the Narendra Modi-led government’s first pronouncements on labour, one can only lament the absence of a vision that a global power ought to have: that increased productivity comes from having satisfied workers, who produce quality products.
One would have thought that since these two statutes have hardly been implemented, the emphasis would have been on bringing in amendments to make them effective.
The Thermal Power station case, decided by the Supreme Court recently, had on record data showing hundreds of workers dying prematurely and over 50 per cent of the workforce suffering from lung diseases, deafness and other occupational illnesses.
The Commonwealth Games case decided by the Delhi High Court found workers living in conditions akin to bondage — without safety equipment, sleeping in sheds without mattresses and fans, and using toilets without doors and water.
This is the reality of labour in India.
Unfair to women
So what do the amendments to the Factory Act suggest?
Instead of suggesting that in globalised India, where workers ought to work for eight hours as per the international norm, they suggest that Section 56 be amended to increase the working day to spreadover 10/ hours to 12 hours; that under Section 65(2), compulsory overtime be increased from 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours, and that under Section 66, women not be allowed to work after 7 p.m., unless a specific notification is issued qua a particular factory that is capable of demonstrating that it has facilities in place to guarantee the safety of women workers.
Thus, instead of statutorily making it the norm that men and women work equal hours, women have been penalised.
Though the Supreme Court has laid down that storage in factories of hazardous substances attracts strict liability or no excuse standard for liability, Section 7(b) lays down that the employer must ensure — “as far as practicable” — that the substance is safe. Section 99 enables an employer to employ children.
Any person up to the age of 18 is a child under the Juvenile Justice Act. Under the Factories Act, however, the ceiling continues at the obsolete level of 14 years. Moreover, the parents will be punished, not the employer.
The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, was enacted to progressively introduce minimum wages in a situation where industries were gradually being established.
Thus, it did not cover all workers, but only workers in notified industries — only a part of the workforce. Domestic workers, for example, are not covered. In a globalised economy one needs to shift to universal coverage.
What was needed was a simple amendment saying that those not covered by the existing notifications would be covered by a residual notification.
This seems to be coming in by amendment.
However, this residual minimum wage will be the lowest of all the minimum wages notified.
* CITU urges workers to unite against NDA government:
The four-day national general council meeting of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) concluded here on Monday with a call for the working class in general and trade unions in particular to intensify the struggle against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s anti-labour policies.
The meet also underlined the need to organise a struggle against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government for its attack on Left party leaders and workers in West Bengal.
A.K. Padmanabhan, national president of the CITU, said the CITU had resolved to organise a struggle across the country against the TMC government from August 1.
* Govt sets-up expert committee to draft new Textile Policy:
“The Ministry of Textiles, Government of India has constituted an Expert Committee for reviewing Textile Policy 2000 and formulating a new National Textile Policy”, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Textiles Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar said in the Rajya Sabha
He added, “The textile sector is a labour-intensive sector employing the largest number of people after agriculture.
The Government has introduced several export promotion measures in the successive Union Budgets as well as through schemes of Foreign Trade Policy 2009-2014, including harmonized Zero Duty Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme covering all sectors and extension of 2% Interest subvention scheme to certain specific sectors such as Handicrafts, Handlooms, carpets, readymade garments etc.
* Apparel exporters seeks expeditious finalisation of India-EU FTA:
As this will help exporters to have better market access, that is already enjoyed by India’s competitors like Bangladesh, Vietnam etc
Apparel exporters today sought expeditious finalisation of the India-EU Free Trade Agreement to enable better market access for Indian exporters whose total outbound shipments stood at USD 15.7 billion last year.
“India’s clothing exports to the FTA countries have increased significantly after signing of the FTA/PTA (Preferential Trade) agreements.
“These markets accounted for 12 % share of India’s clothing exports and around 58 % (of USD 475 mn in 2013) share in the country’s global clothing import”, Apparel Exports Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman Virender Uppal said.
“We recommend the government to expedite the process of India-EU FTA finalisation, as this will help exporters to have better market access, that is already enjoyed by India’s competitors like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia,” Uppal said in the presence of Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar.
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* New talent comes to fore in Gurgaon’s textile boom:
A young textile designer from Gurgaon, Jayetha, started her business in 2013. She set up a small unit to manufacture women’s garments.
Within just one year, she grew from a small manufacturer to a supplier to high-end brands across the country. She is now also planning to sell through online shopping portals. Thanks to a robust environment for textile industry in the city, she had found her success.
Interestingly, the city accounts for 22% of India’s total textile export revenue. “Year 2014 has been significant for the growth of textile. India has emerged as the world’s second largest textile exporter and seventh largest apparel exporter in global markets, with 3.2% share in global exports.
With this, Gurgaon has become an apparel industry hub,” said Zohra Chatterji, secretary, ministry of textiles, while speaking at the convocation ceremony of Institute of Apparel Management.
The industry provides a livelihood to millions.
A single textile manufacturing unit can employ more than 50,000 .
“The industry employs nearly 15 lakh skilled workers. The demand is, however, of more than 45 lakh. It is one of those industries that don’t need only high-skilled professionals,” said Chatterji.
Even though the garment industry is picking up in the city, there is a need to address many shortcomings. “The government should draft investor-friendly policies, with inputs from bodies like Confederation of Indian Textiles Industry and AEPC,” suggested Parvin Tiwari, who runs a textile unit in Manesar.
* Footwear industry seeks excise duty exemption:
The footwear industry, which got a substantial relief in Arun Jaitley’s maiden budget, is disappointed that it has not been exempted from excise duty.
The industry, enjoying a decent annual growth rate and pushing for a chunk of the global market, had hoped the government would completely lift the excise duty to give a boost to growth of domestic and international markets.
Instead, the budget just halved the excise duty from 12 per cent to six per cent on footwear with a price tag between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000.
After the Budget presentation, functionaries of the Confederation of Indian Footwear Industry (CIFI) petitioned the Finance Minister and other government leaders pressing for the exemption.
“We urged them to at least lift the excise duty on footwearpriced below Rs. 1,000,” V Noushad, Vice-President of CIFI, told Business Line .
“They were receptive to our views and we hope the issue will be considered favourably.” He said the CIFI pointed out that the footwear industry had a huge potential and that it was poised for a big leap.
“We are sure that production can be increased by two or three times within a couple of years if the duty is lifted,” Nouhad said.
23:29:47 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s exports rise 15.7 pct in first five months:
Sri Lanka’s exports grew by 15.7 percent to 4.45 billion U.S. dollars during the first five months of 2014 when compared to the same period last year, the central bank said here on Monday.
The export sector strengthened further and trade deficit narrowed for the eighth consecutive month in May by falling 47.9 percent to 393 million U.S. dollars.
Earnings from exports in May increased significantly on a yearly basis, up by 11.1 percent to 882 million U.S. dollars, while expenditure on imports declined by 17.6 percent to 1.275 billion U.S dollars.
The cumulative trade deficit for the first five months of the year contracted by 19.3 percent, as a result of a 15.7 percent growth in export earnings and a 1.5 percent decline in import expenditure, the central bank added in its report.
The largest contribution to the overall growth came from exports of industrial products, followed by those of agricultural products.
Textiles and garment exports made the largest contribution, growing by 14.5 percent to 365 million U.S. dollars in May compared to the same period last year.
22:59:47 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile package to be implemented through SROs:
Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi on Monday assured a textile delegation that the government would soon implement the textile package announced in the budget.
The package would be announced through Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs), the minister said while talking to a delegation, headed by Chairman, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), Punjab S M Tanveer.
The SROs were sent to the Law Division for vetting, the minister said, adding it would be notified in the next few days.
The delegation met the minister to apprise him of shortage of electricity in Punjab, which led to reduction in production in textile units. The mills are operating in two shifts instead of three owing to shortage of electricity.
But the minister said that the supply of electricity to the textile mills would be improved after Ramazan.
An official statement issued after the meeting said that textile industry was in fact the bread winner for the country and the government was trying its level best to facilitate the textile sector. The government values revival of economy, therefore textile industry holds foremost importance, he added.
* Textile industry breadwinner for country: minister:
Textile Industry is in fact the breadwinner for the country and the government is trying its level best to facilitate the textile sector.
Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi in a meeting with All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) delegation said government valued revival of economy therefore textile industry was holding foremost importance. He said our commitment was clearly reflected in the budget incentives announced for the textile industry.
Minister assured the delegation in remaining Ramazan the load shedding hours would be reduced to 8 hours. Government understands the problems being faced by the textile units and issues would be discussed with Prime Minister and Minister for Water and Power soon.
* APTMA delegation calls on Textile Minister:
A delegation of All Pakistan Textile Manufacturing Association (APTMA) called on Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi here Monday and discussed with him issues relating to textile sector.
On the occasion Abbas Khan Afridi said that the textile industry is in fact the bread winner for the country and the government is trying its level best to facilitate the textile sector.
The government values revival of economy, therefore textile industry holds foremost importance, he said adding our commitment is clearly reflected in the budget incentives announced for the textile industry.
The delegation comprising of S.M Tanveer (chairman APTMA Punjab), Seth Akbar (vice chairman APTMA and Ali Ahsan (senior member APTMA) apprised the minister of the current prevailing situation.
They urged the minister to devise some way out for the ruining business at the hands of power outages. The delegation highlighted that in order to reap maximum benefits from GSP plus status, uninterrupted power supply is imperative. The Minister assured the delegation that in the month of Ramadan the loadshedding hours would be reduced to 8 hrs.
* Loadshedding for textile industry to be reduced to 8 hours :
Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi has assured the representatives of industry that loadshedding hours for industry would be reduced to 8 hours during the month of Ramazan.
Textile industry is in fact the bread winner for the country and the government is trying its level best to facilitate the textile sector. This was stated by Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi in a meeting with APTMA delegation.
The government values revival of economy, therefore textile industry holds foremost importance. The Minister added that our commitment is clearly reflected in the budget incentives announced for the textile industry.
* AsiaInspection releases textile synopsis Q2 Barometer:
AsiaInspection, a leading global provider of quality control services for businesses importing from Asia, Africa, Southern Europe and Latin America, announces its 2014 Q2 Barometer, a quarterly synopsis on outsourced manufacturing and the quality control services industry.
Vietnam Undeterred by Rioting
In Vietnam, textile and apparel exports increased 18% year-on-year between January and May, reaching $7.5 billion USD. However, recent protests due to political tensions with China sent fear into supply chains, with AI figures showing May 2014 ordered inspections to be 3.3 times higher than the average for May 2013 to April 2014.
This is due to increased concern from foreign buyers to ensure their
supply chain and quality have not been disrupted. In the first half of the year apparel imports from Vietnam into the US saw a 12.7% increase, well ahead of rival China at 0.9%.
China Sees Largest Industrial Disputes in Living Memory
Chinese government stimulus efforts appear to have worked in Q2, with manufacturing activity and output up and growing nationwide, according to the latest data from the official PMI Index. This was during the same period that over 40,000 workers in the Dongguan province engaged in one of the largest industrial disputes in living memory.
Meanwhile, the largest inspections growth in Asia was Cambodia, up 99% year over year, then Bangladesh and Vietnam 73% each, India 63% and China 10%.
In growth by industry category, food and food container inspections were up 55% quarter over quarter globally.
Toxic Chemicals Rampant: 5% of All Azo Dye Lab Tests Fail
When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) randomly screened for azo dyes in imported clothing in March of this year, approximately 3% contained carcinogens which may be harmful to human health, resulting in the voluntary recall of over 200,000 items from stores, involving 37 product lines from various retailers. Analyzing its own data, AsiaInspection found that over 5% of
all azo dye lab tests in 2014 failed for exceeding the legal minimum.
Africa Gains Momentum
Ordered inspection growth in Asia remained strong with 21% year over year growth. This was surpassed by Africa with 31% inspection growth. Interestingly, growth for inspections in Africa was led by Swaziland which saw 50% growth in just the last quarter.
At the same time, Swaziland is losing benefits from the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act for its failure to make progress towards internationally recognized workers’ rights.
India Challenges China, Becomes World’s Second Largest Textiles Exporter
India is rising as a regional power, taking up a new position as the world’s second largest textiles exporter with a global share of 5.2%. India’s Textiles Minister has projected the value of exports to reach $50 billion USD in the current fiscal year. The growth is being largely driven by its apparel manufacturing, for which exports grew almost 25% in May.
Apparel export growth is being driven by non-traditional markets such as Latin America, Southern Africa, and East and West Asia.
Bangladesh Inspection Groups Raise Tensions
North American and European inspection groups ‘The Alliance’ and ‘The Accord’ are together auditing 2,100 of Bangladesh’s 5,600 garment factories, which employ some 4 million workers and account for 80% of the country’s exports. AI data for 2014 shows that for factories that underwent ethical audits, 27% are at serious risk and 59% are not compliant.
* Italian textiles struggle to weave a new spell:
Italy has fallen behind two groups of rivals in recent years: high-tech, high-end competitors in countries such as Germany and the United States, and low-end producers in places like China, Bangladesh and Turkey.
The best place to see the latter is in Italy’s textile industry.
A central driver of the country’s economic growth in the 20th century, Italian fabric manufacturers have struggled since globalization opened the sector to cheap Asian competition at the end of the 1990s.
Though Italy’s fabric industry has improved productivity in recent years, it has not been able to compete on wages.
The result is fewer jobs, lower living standards and abandoned factories, such as a trail of empty shells along the Seriana Valley outside the northern Italian city of Bergamo.
The area prospered from textiles for more than a century. Until 20 years ago most locals either built or operated the machines that transformed cotton into thread, or thread into curtains, sheets, towels and clothes.
It had no unemployment and was known as “the Golden Valley” because of the high average income of its famously industrious inhabitants.
Now people are lucky if they can find a job in Bergamo. Children move out of the valley (current population: 130,000) as soon as they can, leaving a dwindling and rapidly ageing local population.
Italy remains the world’s third-largest exporter of clothes and fabrics. But its market share has halved to just 4 percent since 2000, while employment in textiles has fallen every year for 25 years.
It is now around 60 percent of what it was in 1990, down 370,000 jobs, according to employers’ association Confindustria.
The lower end of the market, which the Seriana Valley specialized in, has been hardest hit.
China now exports eight times as much.
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