16:18:22 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodia sees 16% rise in garment, footwear exports in 6 months:
Garment and footwear industry, Cambodia’s largest income earner, saw a 16 percent increase in exports in the first six months of 2014, according to a commerce ministry’s report on Sunday.
The country exported apparel and footwear products worth 2.92 billion U.S. dollars during the January-June period this year, up 16 percent from 2.51 billion U.S. dollars over the same period last year, the report said.
The products are mainly exported to European countries and the United States.
The exports to Europe were valued at 1.14 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of this year, up 32 percent and the exports to the U.S. dropped by 2 percent to 999 million U.S. dollars as the sales to other countries rose by 25 percent to 787 million U.S. dollars.
Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said, “the garment and footwear sector is expected to see a 15 percent growth this year if production is not disrupted by any higher wage demanding protests for the rest of the year.”
The sector comprises 960 factories with some 620,000 workers, according to the Ministry of Labor. It earned 5.5 billion U.S. dollars from exports last year, accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s total exports.
Wage dispute remains hot since pro-opposition trade unions, which represent about 19 percent of the workers, still jointly demand the government to raise monthly minimum wages for workers to 160 U.S. dollars from the current 100 U.S. dollars.
to read. & to read.
* Taiwan Insists Trade Office Approved by Ministry:
Following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s vow to block plans for a Taiwanese trade office in Phnom Penh on Friday, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council on Saturday responded by insisting the office had already been given the green light by Cambodia’s Commerce Ministry, according to Taiwanese media.
At a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday, Mr. Hun Sen said he would not allow Taiwan to set up a trade office owing to his strict respect for Beijing’s One-China policy, which treats Taiwan as a Chinese province. The prime minister was reacting to a report by the Taipei Times, reprinted in Cambodia by the Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper, and demanded a correction.
15:18:22 local time BANGLADESH
* Salaries of 10 lakh RMG workers of subcontracting factories uncertain:
‘We have information that the subcontracting factory owners are facing problems in managing funds to pay the workers’ dues before Eid’
Some 10 lakh workers, who are employed in around 1,200 subcontracting ready-made garment factories, are still facing uncertainties in getting their salaries and bonus before Eid as the factory owners are now facing fund shortage due to order crisis.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), there are 1,200 subcontracting RMG factory in the country employing over 10 lakh workers.
Among the subcontracting factories, 800 are fully depend on subcontracting job while rest of the 400 are directly export-oriented factories, which also do subcontract job when they lack work orders.
The subcontracting factories cut and make garments in contract and are paid off for that, which is also known as cutting and making (CM) charge.
I have got my salary of the last month on Thursday last, which has become a usual scenario for us as it is happening every month, Ahsan, an operator at a subcontracting factory at Badda in the capital, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We may get only bonus before Eid as the factory has not enough funds to pay the monthly salary,’’ said Ahsan quoting a factory official.
After the Rana Plaza incident, which killed 1,135 workers and injured over 2,500 last year, global buyers have become more cautious about workers’ safety and also imposed conditions on subcontracting.
According to a BGMEA source, factory owners, especially the actual subcontracting factory owners, are facing financial crisis due to lack of enough work orders.
* Wage, festival allowance before Eid uncertain:
Uncertainty looms large over the payment of wages and festival allowance of about 8 lakh workers engaged in more than 800 subcontracting factories before Eid-ul-Fitr with factory owners yet to decide on payment.
BGMEA leaders claimed that these factories were facing order shortage in the current ‘lean period’, while labour leaders said that the owners were looking for excuses not to pay wages and allowance before the Eid.
There are 1,200 subcontracting garment factories in the country and 800 of them are fully dependent on subcontracting, while the rest 400 are directly exporting factory but they also do sub-contract when they don’t have export orders, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
‘We are in fear that untoward situation may erupt in the subcontracting factories before Eid due to lack of payment in time as the companies suffered order crisis,’ BGMEA vice president Shahidullah Azim told New Age on Sunday.
He said that normally the period of May-August is lean time for the garment sector when there is order crisis in the subcontracting factories.
* RMG subcontracting policy likely to be finalised tomorrow:
The government is likely to finalise the guidelines for factories involved in subcontracting business in the readymade garment sector tomorrow with a provision of suspension and withdrawal of different facilities and services for exporters and subcontracting factories for violation of the guidelines, officials of the commerce ministry said.
They said that the government and apparel makers and exporters associations — BGMEA and BKMEA — would suspend or withdraw the facilities and services given at export and production stages to both the parties involved in subcontracting business.
The government provides many important services and facilities to the RMG factories for producing products and entering in export market including duty-free raw materials import and different kinds of certificates needed for maintaining safety and working standards in factories.
Apparel exporters’ associations such as Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association also provide many services to the factories including membership, approval for setting units, utilisation declaration needed for getting bond facilities from the government.
The ministry had already finalised a draft of the guidelines for establishing a transparent and accountable subcontracting business in the RMG sector to ensure workers’ safety and improve working conditions in subcontracting factories. ‘An inter-ministerial meeting will be held at the commerce ministry on Tuesday to finalise the guidelines,’ a high official of the ministry told New Age on Sunday.
* GIZ, EU celebrate four years of collaboration in RMG sector:
GIZ, the German Development Cooperation, and the European Union (EU) marked and celebrated four years of their collaboration improving labour standards in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh.
“Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry” (PSES) Project arranged the programme in the city Sunday, said a statement.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Mujibul Haque Chunnu attended the programme as the chief guest.
He said, “The EU has been playing an important role in the development of Bangladesh for over four decades and through this project implemented with the German Development Cooperation has played a key role in ensuring the health and safety of workers in the RMG sector.”
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* BBC Documentary Rana Plaza victims share ordeal:
April 24, 2013, the worst industrial disaster of modern times happened in Savar, outskirt of the capital. Rana Plaza, a clothing factory collapsed leaving 1,134 people dead.
A year on from the tragedy, several survivors, who were behind the screen, remembered their ordeal in a BBC documentary titled ‘Clothes To Die For’.
Audience can watch it on BBC Two over BBC iPlayer early Monday 3:00am (Bangladesh Time) where the Rana Plaza victims will be speaking about their experiences for the first time, reports the Mirror on Sunday.
The reports included the story of a braved Bangladeshi woman Rojina Begum, who was one of thousands injured, trapped in darkness for days before eventually escaping the rubble.
She had amputated her own arm to escape from the fallen Rana Plaza considering the curse of her own fate.
Here, we are publishing the story of Rojina reported by the British tabloid for banglanews24.com readers.
Sewing machinist Rojina Begum had spent three days trapped in a mountain of rubble surrounded by the stench of more than 1,000 decomposing bodies.
As Rojina grew weaker, a voice suddenly came out of the darkness.
A doctor had found her but the only way she could be freed was to amputate her left arm which was partly crushed under a beam.
The 26-year-old mum said: “The doctor tried to amputate it but couldn’t reach.
“I said, ‘No matter how hard it is, amputate my arm’. He said ‘I’m giving you a saw and you can do it yourself.’
“At first I said, ‘I can’t. I have no strength.’ It was the start of the third day.
“He said ‘Give it a try.’ I said, ‘OK, give it to me’ and I cut it.
“I never thought that I’d have to amputate my own arm. But I was forced to by the situation.
Rojina, who was one of the victims of Rana Plaza collapse said that on April 24 last year the eight-storey building collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring more than 2,400 others.
14:48:22 local time INDIA
* Govt to debate special laws for SEZs:
The commerce department is reopening the debate on having a unique labour law for special economic zones in what is seen as the latest attempt to breathe life into the once bustling sector.
Sources said that the department is scheduled to kick off discussions on a special dispensation for SEZs later this week and has already flagged the issue to development commissioners along with looking at ways to simplify the procedures in the zones.
Citing the Chinese model, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had originally proposed to exempt SEZs and units in these zones from the country’s labour laws, arguing that they were technically outside Indian jurisdiction.
* Cotton import likely to double this year:
Cotton import in India is likely to double this year, due to the higher prices in the domestic market than abroad.
The Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) estimates the cotton import at 1.5 million bales (a bale is 170 kg) in the current cotton year (October 2013-September 2014), as compared to 0.7 million bales the previous year.
“Cotton is selling in India at four-five per cent premiums, said D K Nair, secretary-general of CITI.
“The sea transport cost from Africa to southern ports is drastically lower than surface transport cost from the central and western Indian states.”
Indian mills have signed contracts with African suppliers for all types of cotton imports.
14:18:22 local time PAKISTAN
* Workers protest colleague’s death:
Over 100 WAPDA employees’ union members, Power Looms Association Multan, Power Loom Association South Punjab, MEPCO Engineers union and MEPCO Clerical Workers Union held separate protests against Federal Secretary of Water and Power Nargis Sethi and sought her termination.
Ali Athar, a member of MEPCO Clerical Workers’ Union, told The Express Tribune that Mian Yousaf, a senior engineer was working as personal staff officer MEPCO Chief Executive Officer Muzaffar Abbasi.
He said Yousaf attended a video conference at 2 am on Friday night with other MEPCO executives. He said the man had a heart attack half way through the meeting and died on the way to hospital.
He said workers blamed Sethi for unreasonable working hours of MEPCO workers. He said Yousaf died of stress and exhaustion.
The unions announced three-day mourning and a boycott of duties until action was taken against Abbasi and Sethi.
As many as 14 protests were held on Saturday and Sunday.
The engineer’s family also joined the protests at the Multan Press Club.
* Red tape drives away Chinese group from Apparel Park:
Shandong Ruyi Group of China is losing interest in the Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park, a project of the Punjab government where the company was planning to invest heavily, over some bureaucratic hurdles.
“The company has not yet come up with proposals to demonstrate its interest in the project despite the fact that its Director Arie Qiu, daughter of the owner, held several meetings with the Punjab chief minister to discuss investment,” an official of the provincial Industries Department told The Express Tribune but requested anonymity.
The Ruyi Group, a joint venture between Chinese and foreign investors headed by Qiu Yafu, is a hi-tech enterprise, is listed among top 10 firms in the textile industry as well as among 100 major companies in Shandong.
The Punjab government is setting up the Apparel Park over an area of 1,562 acres of farmland near Sheikhupura motorway interchange. It acquired land at a cost of Rs3.3 billion, which constituted about 49% of total investment in the project.
The remaining 51% (estimated at around Rs4 billion) was promised by Shandong Ruyi Group for infrastructure development and providing all services to the factories under the public-private partnership model and later as a joint venture.
The Punjab government will own 49% of the project and the Chinese group will have 51% shareholding.
* GSP Plus Status: Industry expanding as foreign orders up:
We know energy crises can’t be resolved in a single day but planned load management will help the industry to minimize the problems.
In these circumstances, to get immediate relief in energy crises, govt should allow the industries to generate in house power, not only for its own utilization but also to sell excessive quantity to close industries and living areas. Govt. need to fix a cost effective tariff which will guide to operate smoothly & energy crises will also be reduced effectively.”
Azam Malik, the Pakistan Tanners Association EC member and the chief executive of Leathertex Industries, said that GSP Plus has immense opportunity for Pakistan to increase export. He said that following the relaxation by the EU, the Lethertex Industry which is the major exporter of safety and industrial clothing, has also expanded its whole infrastructure.
As the foreign orders of garment goods as well as gloves are increasing by almost 40 to 50 per cent, most of the industries have started expanding their set up to fulfill their orders.
Azam Malik urged the government to fulfill energy needs of the textile industry, besides controlling law and order, as the two issues had been hitting hard the Punjab-based value-added industry.
* Punjab-based textile industry: problems relating to energy will decrease after Eid: Afridi:
Federal Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi has said that the energy-relating problems of Punjab-based textile industry would be reduced after Eid.
He was talking to media at an Iftar-dinner organised by the former Chairman APTMA Punjab Nawab Shahzad Ali Khan at a local restaurant. Governor Punjab Ch Muhammad Sarwar, former Federal Finance Minister Dr Salman Shah, MNA Pervez Malik, Group Leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz, Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer, office bearers of APTMA Punjab and leading textile millers were also present on the occasion.
The Federal Textile Minister said the government was providing electricity to the domestic consumers on priority during the Holy month of Ramadan. It would definitely be revised after the Holy month and the industry would get a relief, he assured.
According to him, his ministry had burnt midnight oil to ensure payment textile industry refunds within three months of current fiscal year and arrangements have been finalised to this effect. Further, he said, he has also pursued the government to bring down mark up on long term finance and export refinance for textile industry.