For an Overview and Updates PHILIPPINE Shoe Factory fire
click here: Philippene footwear Factory fire 20150513-now
17:39:40 local time CAMBODIA
20150519 * 18 Garment Workers Killed in Crash, Official Says:
Eighteen garment workers were killed and 21 injured Tuesday morning when the van they were traveling in on their way to work in Svay Rieng province crashed with a tourist bus, according to an Interior Ministry official.
“There are 18 who died, seven seriously injured…and 14 with minor injuries,” said Run Rathvesna, chief of the Interior Ministry’s public order department. “They are at three hospitals: Chi Phu referral hospital, Svay Rieng hospital, and another clinic.”
Svay Rieng provincial military police chief On Soeung said the driver of the bus, which was operated by the 15 SH Transport company, was arrested after sustaining minor injuries in the crash in Svay Teap district.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the garment workers were members of his union and that at least five remained in a serious condition Tuesday morning.
“Five victims are now receiving urgent medical treatment at Chi Phu referral hospital in Bavet City,” he said.
20150519 * killed in horrific accident in Eastern part province:
At least 17 people were killed and 22 others were injured this morning when a bus collided a pickup truck carrying garment workers to work in Kampong Ro district, Svay Rieng, an eastern province, said police report.
The bus heading Vietnam from Phnom Penh overtook another car on the right side of the road before it crashed into the truck, leaving over 17 workers dead at the spot, said a witness.
In the first quarter of 2015, 610 people were killed and 1,139 others were wounded on the roads across the country, according to police report.
20150519 * Bus Slams Head-on into Van, Killing 18:
At least 18 people died and nearly two dozen were injured when a tourist bus from Vietnam slammed into a van full of garment workers in Bavet city, Svay Rieng province, early Tuesday morning.
The tourist bus was heading west toward Phnom Penh on National Road 1 when it tried to overtake another vehicle. The bus collided head-on with a van, killing its driver and 17 garment workers on board. Twenty-one other workers were injured, nine of them seriously. Two of the nine injured were airlifted to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh.
The collision took place 115 km east of the capital. None of the bus passengers were seriously injured in the collision.
Chieng Am, Svay Rieng’s governor, said the van was carrying 38 women to work in a factory in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone, an industrial park on the Cambodian border, 80 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh City.
“The bus was trying to overtake another vehicle, when it hit the van coming in the opposite direction,” said Mr. Am. “The bus driver was responsible for the dangerous maneuver and its aftermath.”
“We arrested the [Vietnamese] bus driver and sent him to the provincial police station for legal processing,” he said, adding that he rushed to the scene of the accident with provincial authorities. The injured were sent to the Svay Rieng referral hospital, the Chi Pou hospital and to Phnom Penh.
The van driver was an independent agent and was not employed by the garment factory or sub-contracted by a taxi company, he said. The bus belonged to a Phnom Penh-based fleet that transports passengers between the capital and Vietnam.
Prime Minister Hun Sen paid his condolences Tuesday morning, noting that the number of traffic accidents is increasing. He appealed for everyone to work together to reduce traffic fatalities.
20150519 * At least 18 killed in crash:
At least 18 workers have now died in the wake of a deadly Tuesday morning collision in Svay Rieng that saw a speeding bus collide with a van loaded with garment workers.
Lieutenant Gen. Ron Rothveasna, director of the Ministry of Interior’s order department, said that the death toll had grown from 16 after two critically injured passengers had died in hospital. More than 20 were also injured.
Svay Rieng provincial governor Chieng Am said the incident happened at about 7am as the van traveled to the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Bavet. Sixteen workers were declared dead at the scene, including 14 women and two men.
Am said that eight other workers, six women and two men, had been seriously injured, while 14 others received slight injuries and were taken to the provincial hospital.
“It is the biggest ever accident to happen in my province,” said Am, who added that the bodies of victims had already been claimed by family members. “I think the number of deaths will increase as it hopeless for those in critical condition.”
Am said that the bus driver, employed by the Sun Hour Company, has been arrested and two seriously injured workers sent to Phnom Penh.
According to Am, the provincial Cambodian Red Cross has thus far donated 400,000 riel ($100) to each family of the victims and the provincial hall has contributed another 200,000 riel ($50) each.
16:39:40 local time BANGLADESH
20150517 * Workers’ demo in front of secretariat:
Nearly five hundred workers staged demonstration in front of the secretariat in city Sunday, demanding the payment of their dues.
Led by the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Worker Trade Union Centre, workers of Swan Garments Factory of the city’s Dhakkhinkhan area have taken poison there since 12:20pm on the day.
Prior to that, they formed a human chain in front of National Press Club, and protested the owners’ decision of shutting down the factory without prior notice.
Moreover, they demanded payments of their 4-month dues.
20150517 * Chunnu assures RMG workers of solving problem:
State minister for labor and employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu assured Swan garments workers of solving the existing problems within two days.
Bangladesh Garment Worker Trade Union Centre general secretary Jolly Talukdar said after getting the assurance the workers left the secretariat in city around 2:15 Sunday.
But the workers leader threatened that the workers will press home their demand if the state minister does not fulfill his promise.
Earlier in the day, nearly five hundred workers staged demonstration in front of the secretariat, demanding the payment of their dues.
20150517 * Yangone factory catches fire:
Storeroom of Yangone’s apparel factory caught fire at Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) in the port city on Sunday morning.
Ten fire fighter vehicles of three units struggled about four hours to douse the blaze.
Agrabad Fire Service and Civil Defence assistant director Mohammad Yahia told bagnlanews that the fire originated at the fourth floor of the factory due to short-circuit around 3:45am.
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20150516 * 10 hurt in Gazipur RMG factory fire:
Ten workers were injured as a fire broke out at a garment factory in Safipur area of Kaliakoir upazila on Saturday afternoon.
Fire service sources said the fire erupted at the fabrics stock of ‘Mahmud Denim’s Limited’ in the area around 3:15pm.
On information, two fire fighting units from Kaliakoir rushed in and brought the fire under control after an hour of frantic efforts.
20150515 * Garment factory catches fire in Gazipur:
A fire broke out in a garment factory at Tongi Bazar in the city on Friday morning.
Fire service sources said the fire originated from an electronic short circuit on the 5th floor of the six-storey building around 11:30 am and soon engulfed the whole floor.
On information, three fire fighting unit rushed to the spot and doused the flame after an hour of frantic efforts.
The extent of loss caused by the fire could not be ascertained immediately.
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18:39:40 local time MONGOLIA
20150511 * Cashmere export to increase:
Last Friday, Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat met with representatives of the cashmere sector to talk about measures to be taken in order to increase cashmere product export.
Mongolia signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan at the beginning of the year, which is expected to open up opportunities for Mongolia to export domestic products without taxes.
Minister Erdenebat is calling on the cashmere sector to actively participate in the state and private sector meeting between Mongolia and Japan that will take place in June.
The Minister underlined that cashmere producers will be provided with loans to increase the export of cashmere products.
19:39:40 local time NORTH KOREA
20150511 * S. Korea urges N. Korea to end work slowdown at joint complex:
South Korea called on North Korea Monday to end the work slowdown at a joint industrial park in the North amid a drawn-out row sparked by Pyongyang’s unilateral wage hike.
The two Koreas have been embroiled in the wage dispute as North Korea unilaterally decided to hike the minimum monthly wage to $74 for about 53,000 North Korean workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the border city of the same name.
Seoul has requested its companies not to send out March paychecks, vowing to punish violators. Despite the warning, 49 out of 124 South Korean companies have paid March wages to the North’s workers apparently after threats from the North.
The 10-day period of the wage payment for April began on Sunday, signaling for more tension between the two Koreas. The Ministry of Unification said that there has been a reported work slowdown at the complex.
“South Korea cannot accept North Korea’s unlawful activities,” Lim Byeong-cheol, the ministry spokesman, said in a press briefing.
“The North should come to the talks to resolve the wage row after immediately ending such activities.”
18:39:40 local time PHILIPPINES
20150514 * More than 70 dead in Valenzuela factory fire:
The death toll in a rubber slipper factory fire in Valenzula City climbed to 72 on Thursday, a fire official said.
Fire Senior Superintendent Sergio Soriano Jr. said Thursday afternoon that the death toll was based on bodies recovered from the site, most of which were found on the second floor of the building.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela City said around 11:45 before said another 26 people were still missing in the gutted Kentex Manufacturing Corp. building and feared dead
He said at least 30 people had been injured and expressed hope that some of the missing may have escaped.
“The city government is still praying and hoping that the 26, some of them, must have gotten out earlier in the morning and had gone to relatives and have not logged on at city hall. So we are still hoping that the number 26 will still go down,” Gatchalian said in a televised press briefing.
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20150514 * Over 60 feared dead:
Workers trapped in burning Valenzuela slipper factory
A spark from a welder’s tool started a six-hour fire that gutted a two-story slipper factory in Valenzuela City before noon yesterday while more than a hundred employees were working.
A survivor said she heard a loud explosion before the fire spread on the second floor where more than 60 employees were working.
Relatives of the workers who were trapped inside the burning Kentex factory building burst into tears when Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, quoting fire officials, revealed that none of those on the second floor survived.
Chemical and materials used in making slippers are reportedly stocked on the second floor of the building.
A relative of a factory worker rushed to the scene while Gatchalian was meeting with worried family members to relay a text message she received from a trapped relative that they were huddled on the second floor.
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20150514 * Justice for the workers of Kentex! Justice for Filipino workers!:
We express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the workers of Kentex Manufacturing Incorporated who died in a factory fire yesterday.
We are one with you in mourning the untimely and unjust deaths of our fellow workers.
Latest reports say that 35 workers died, while 65 workers went missing in the fire along Tatalon Street in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City. We are calling for an immediate and full accounting of the names of the workers who died in the accident.
Our hearts are crying out for justice for the workers of Kentex. Not a single worker should die in the workplace, even when a fire breaks out.
The number of workers who died and the number of workers who went missing clearly indicate that occupational health and safety standards have been violated by the capitalists of Kentex.
We demand their immediate prosecution for this crime.
This is not the first factory fire which killed many workers under the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino.
Last May 9, 2012, 17 workers of Novo Jeans and Shorts in Butuan City died when a fire broke out.
Last April 30, 2014, eight workers of Asia Micro Tech in Pasay City died when a fire broke out. This is also not the first time that workers were killed at the workplace. More than 40 construction workers have died under the Aquino government.
20150513 * Hundreds trapped in Valenzuela warehouse fire, 63 feared dead:
Workers trapped in second floor of burning factory
At least 63 workers are feared to have died as hundreds of employees were reported trapped after fire hit a slipper factory in Valenzuela .
An official of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Valenzuela said as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday that 5 were confirmed dead.
A factory security guard claimed that about 200 workers had been trapped at the second floor of the factory.
One of the survivors, identified only by her first name as Emma, said only those working in the first floor were able to escape as soon as the fire engulfed the factory.
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20150513 * 31 workers killed in Valenzuela factory inferno; 34 others missing:
Fire fighters recovered 31 bodies in a slippers factory that was gutted by fire before noon in Valenzuela City on Wednesday, but 34 more are missing and feared to have been trapped and burned alive.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian said Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials had told him the factory, which contained various flammable chemicals, had been completely burned and it was unlikely that those on the second floor could have escaped.
Gatchalian said firefighters entered the burnt-out building to find an undetermined number of bodies.
They were unable to count the dead inside, but found no survivors, he said.
“None of those trapped inside survived,” Gatchalian announced to wailing relatives outside the factory.
He added that firemen could not immediately determine how many bodies had been inside, but relatives told officials up to 63 of their kin working in the factory at the time were unaccounted for.
Gatchalian urged the relatives to check again whether the missing kin were among those who had managed to escape the blaze.
“I’m not saying all (the missing) are dead. We’re still hoping they were able to jump out,” he added.
Workers who survived the fire, as they were posted on the ground floor and rushed out in time, said over 60 of their co-workers were on the second floor. The access to the second floor was one of the areas first consumed by flames that suddenly engulfed the factory after certain volatile chemicals caught fire from sparks believed to have come from a welder’s torch nearby.
20150513 * Update: 35 killed in fire at Valenzuela slipper factory:
“More or less” 35 people were killed in a fire that gutted a slipper factory of the Kentex Manufacturing Inc., in Valenzuela City on Wednesday, local fire authorities said.
Supt. Crisfo Diaz, deputy director of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s National Capital Region office, said on Wednesday night, “more or less 35 were dead.”
Based on investigation, “they died due to suffocation until they were burnt as fire gutted the structure,” Diaz said.
Diaz said the building was “stable,” and the fire was put out by 6:47 p.m.
He also said the second floor did not collapse despite the load of the steel roof falling.
Families and relatives of fire victims were brought to the barangay hall in Maysan, Valenzuela, near the funeral parlors and morgues where the bodies were brought for identification.
The Bureau of Fire Protection has started investigating the cause of the fire. Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian said the city government would hold liable those responsible for the fire.
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20150513 * Dozens feared dead in slipper factory fire in Valenzuela:
A fire gutted a rubber slipper factory in a suburb of the Philippine capital Wednesday, possibly killing dozens of workers who ran to the second floor in hopes of escaping only to become trapped by inferno, officials said.
At least three bodies have been recovered and fire officials said there were no survivors found after the fire was put under control, said Mayor Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela city, north of Manila.
Relatives reported 65 people missing, and Gatchalian said only seven people managed to escape the fire. There could be others who are listed as missing but were able to escape, he said.
District Fire Marshal Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu said he was among the first to reach the second floor of the gutted building after the fire and saw “numerous bodies,” many charred beyond recognition.
Radio reports quoted relatives as saying their kin were able to send text messages saying they were on the second floor, but contact was lost shortly after.
Gatchalian said the fire apparently was ignited by sparks from welding works at the factory’s main entrance door, triggering an explosion of the chemicals used to make the slippers.
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20150513 * Philippines factory fire: Live updates:
Many feared dead after a blaze ripped through a footwear factory in a suburb of Manila
Many people are feared to have been killed in a horrific blaze at a shoe factory in a suburb of Manila.
More are missing after the blaze broke out earlier today.
20150510 * 3.9 workers benefit from new DOLE system:
More firms apply for labor law compliance process
Around 3.9 million workers in the country are assured they received the mandated pay and other benefits from employers after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) launched the new labor inspection system.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said more companies have voluntarily applied to undergo through the Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS).
“Since the implementation of the Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS) companies posted higher compliance rate, particularly in minimum wage law,” Baldoz said.
Last year, DOLE revamped the LLCS so labor inspectors will not only perform the usual assessment functions but also offer productivity improvement and employer-employee cooperation modules.
Since the enforcement of the new LLCS, Baldoz disclosed the number of companies compliant to labor regulations, particularly minimum wage, has increased from 84.9 percent in the previous year into 87.8 percent.
20150510 * Is minimum wage bad for poor?:
It is one of our most enduring shibboleths: “Workers are entitled to a just wage, which is defined as no lower than a legal minimum wage (LMW). Only in this manner can we reduce poverty and achieve social justice.”
This logic seems irrefutable. However, recent Philippine studies estimating the impact of LMW on employment and household income have raised serious questions about the wisdom of this generalization.
The good intentions behind LMW may have unintended consequences that are harmful if not expressed through appropriate policies. Good intentions, in fact, may end up paving the road to perdition—in this case, persistent unemployment and underemployment, lack of investment and continuing poverty.
Case against LMW
Every year, there is a clamor for large increases in LMW. As expected, last January the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)-Nagkaisa and other labor groups, together with their political allies, filed a demand for a huge LMW increase: an additional P136 a day on top of the minimum wage of P466 a day for workers in Metro Manila.
20150508 * ‘Proposed wage hike to spur unemployment’:
A large number of workers will likely lose their jobs if the government approves the legislated P16,000 national minimum wage (NMW) being pushed by some labor groups.
Citing a study conducted by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz warned the small and medium-sized companies, which make up most of the country’s employers, will be unable to afford the proposed wage hike.
“The NWPC already conducted a study (on that proposal). Based from their computation the minimum wage adjustment will be too much for the private sector,” Baldoz said.
17:39:40 local time VIET NAM
20150511 * Local authorities reconsider textile & garment projects:
What will happen if local authorities all turn down textile investment projects for fear of environmental pollution?
!t’s easy to say ‘no’
Da Nang City authorities have rejected two foreign invested projects capitalized at hundreds of millions of dollars, even though the city saw a sharp fall of 45% in foreign direct investment (FDI) capital in the first three months of the year.
Both of the projects are in the textile, dying and garment sector, including a $200 million project registered by an investor from Hong Kong and another registered by an investor from South Korea.
According to Da Nang City’s Investment Promotion Center, the projects have been turned down because they may cause environmental problems.
Da Nang City, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in the planet, is focusing on developing a tourism industry and is targeting sustainable development. It has decided to attract only projects using high and clean technologies.
Da Nang is not alone. Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Dong Nai also announced they are not encouraging projects in labor-intensive and polluting industries.
Even Hai Duong, a northern province which does not have big advantages to attract investors, has also decided to stop licensing projects in six business fields, including dyeing and textiles.
What will happen?
While admitting that local authorities have every reason to refuse dyeing and textile projects, some analysts have expressed their worries about the implementation of Vietnam’s plan on developing the textile & garment industry to take full advantage of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) Agreement.
20150511 * Viet Nam seeks FDI quality, not quantity:
Viet Nam has licensed 448 new FDI projects worth US$2.67 billion in the first four months of the year, down 17.1 per cent compared with the same period last year, and permitted investors to infuse $1.01 billion in 167 existing projects.
While the commitments may have shrunk from last year, the actual disbursement has risen by 5 per cent to $4.2 billion, according to the Foreign Investment Department.
Authorities have been paying more attention to the “quality” rather than “quantity” of investment.
“[While considering an FDI project] authorities should ignore the idea of ‘more the better’,” said Phan Huu Thang, a former head of the department.
Recently the central city of Da Nang rejected two multi-million dollar foreign projects over environmental issues.
Other provinces like Ba Ria – Vung Tau and Dong Nai have also rejected projects that could cause pollution, require large tracts of land, and employ unskilled workers.
The northern province of Hai Duong has decided to stop licensing FDI projects in sectors like textile and dyeing, leather and footwear manufacturing, plastics and composites, rubber processing, and paper production from pulp.
20150512 * US business shares labour experience with Vietnam:
On May 12, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the US Manpower Group signed a memorandum of understanding on exchanging experience in labour and employment for the term 2015-2018.
- Foreign countries turn to Vietnam to ease labour shortages
- Labour exports off to rip-roaring start
- Vietnam targets record-high labour exports for 2015
The MoU covers specific content: building and completing a legal framework for adjusting the labour market, supporting the policy-making process regarding employment service, applying legal regulations on rehiring workers and soft skills training.
20150512 * Textilers move in ahead of FTAs:
Foreign textile and garment firms are reeling out new investments in anticipation of upcoming free trade agreements.
- Vietnam Garment and Textile forum 2015: big opportunities
- Q1 textile, garment exports fail to meet high expectations
- Indian textile sector says Vietnam a collaborator, not a rival
Nguyen Duc Tiep, deputy head of the Quang Ninh Provincial Investment Promotion Division, told VIR that Hong Kong’s Texhong Group is nearing completion of its second production factory which is worth US$200 million.
The complex is located within the US$953.6 million, 3,300 hectare Hai Ha Industry Park, which is also under the group’s construction.
“The park and factory will likely come into operation within the coming months. Texhong is calling upon many fabric and textile investors from Hong Kong to invest into the park and supply materials for its two factories”, Tiep said, adding that Texhong would build a power plant at the park to supply sufficient power to the textile and garment factories there.
The group’s first textile factory, also worth over US$200 million, has already been operating at the province’s Hai Yen Industrial Park for several years.
Another Hong Kong backed firm, Black Peony, is planning to build a US$100 million jean cloth production facility in this park.
“Foreign textile and garments firms want to enjoy a 0% import tax rate under the commitments of free trade agreements (FTA) such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the EU-Vietnam FTA, and the Republic of Korea-Vietnam FTA”, Tiep said.
The textiles, clothing, and footwear sectors will benefit hugely from the EU-Vietnam FTA when the import tariff is reduced to 0%, down from the existing 10%. They currently comprise 30% of Vietnam’s overall merchandise exports, and a massive 50% of Vietnam’s overall exports to the EU.
20150512 * Quang Nam garners textile investments:
The central province of Quang Nam is welcoming an inflow of investment capital into the garment and textile sector.
Seven out of 12 newly licensed projects are from the sector, Cong Thuong (Industry and Trade) newspaper reported.
The most prominent project was a fiber-weaving-dying and garment complex worth VND1.2 trillion (US$55.5 million).
The complex is being developed by the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group in Que Son District.
It is slated for completion within two years and expected to earn VND2 trillion ($92.59 million) annually.
Other projects include a $30-million textile-garment-dyeing factory financed by the South-Korea-invested Panko Tam Thang Co; Korea’s Onewoo garment manufacturing plant capitalized at $6 million; and a Taiwanese apparel factory valued at $4 million in Thuan Yen Industrial Zone.
According to analysts, the new investment inflow into the garment and textile industry is predictable, as both domestic and international firms seek to take advantage of the benefits Viet Nam will potentially derive when the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is signed.
Several companies from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the US and South Korea have made large investments in the sector, according to Thoi Bao Tai Chinh (Finance Times) newspaper.
20150509-12 * Footwear makers told to improve quality, design:
Local footwear manufacturers should improve the design and quality of their products to attract local customers after bringing the local footwear market under free trade agreements, said experts.
According to the Vietnam Leather Footwear and Bag Association (Lefaso), local demand for footwear reaches 150 million pairs per year and local producers have met only 40% of the demand, reported Dien dan Doanh nghiep newspaper.
Local footwear mainly cater to rural and remote areas that have people with low incomes.
Therefore, large footwear manufacturers often make footwear products for exports and have left the domestic market to small and medium enterprises, the association noted.
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20150508 * Vietnam Garment and Textile forum 2015: big opportunities:
The Vietnam Garment and Textile Forum 2015 will be held in Hanoi on June 25-27. It expects to attract the participation of world’s leading garment and textile groups such as Puma, Levi Strauss, Li & Fung, Tal Group and the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA).
- Q1 textile, garment exports fail to meet high expectations
- HCMC hosts international fairs in garment, cosmetics
During the event, foreign groups and leading economists will share information on the international garment and textile market, the size of Vietnam’s garment and textile industry and its market, the world trend, and global supply chain of leading trademarks.
During the event, the participants will conduct a fact-finding tour at Rang Dong Industrial Park in the northern province of Nam Dinh to assess the favourable investment climate given to investors.
Vietnam’s garment and textile industry has rapidly developed recently and become a world’s leading garment and textile exporter besides China, India, Turkey and Bangladesh.
20150512 * Vietnamese, Korean businesses promote trade links:
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) held a meeting on May 12 with businesses from Vietnam and the Republic of Korea, resulting in a signed cooperative agreement with Korean Daegu Technopark.
- Trade fair to promote Vietnamese exports to RoK
- Vietnam-RoK FTA brings new opportunities: Minister
- RoK, Vietnam sign Free Trade Agreement
It aims to support the two business communities and to expand cooperation in production and distribution of food, cosmetics, and consumer products.
Pham Quang Thinh, Deputy Director of the VCCI’s External Relations Department, said the RoK is especially an important trade and investment partner of Vietnam.
Currently, the country takes the lead among foreign investors in Vietnam with 4,140 projects worth US$37.43 billion.
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20150512 * Turkey launches anti-dumping investigation into Vietnam’s yarns:
The General Directorate of Imports under the Turkish Ministry of Economy has recently filed an anti-dumping investigation into spun polyester yarns imported from some countries including Vietnam.
- Experts to exporters: Cope with anti-dumping lawsuits
- Sharp cut in US anti-dumping tariffs on Vietnamese shrimp
The agency announced it has received a petition from domestic fibre manufacturers, claiming that some products have been imported into Turkey at substantially reduced prices and made a negative impact on the domestic industry.
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20150514 * Publicise Social Insurance Law: NA :
National Assembly deputies yesterday reviewed the Govern-ment’s report on Article 60 of the 2014 Social Insurance Law, urging more public understanding of the matter.
Most deputies agreed it was not yet necessary to reach an immediate amendment for regulations on lump-sum social insurance.
They said Article 60 of the 2014 Social Insurance Law had presented a right option and direction for the expansion of the coverage of social insurance.
They added that this would ensure long-term benefits for labourers and make a good contribution to the implementation of national social welfare policies.
20150513 * Safety Fun Run to educate garment workers about safety and health:
About 4.500 garment workers in the South are set to join Better Work Vietnam’s annual fun run this year on May 17 in Binh Duong to highlight the issue of health and safety in the apparel industry.
The 2015 “Safety Fun Run” is the sixth event of its kind organized by Better Work Vietnam – a partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation – to strengthen connections among workers, employers, buyers and the wider community to raise awareness on key health and safety topics facing workers.
The theme of this year’s event is “Worker’s Health” with the aim to promote healthy living and good nutrition through practical education and guidance.
A study by non-profit organization Business for Social Responsibility on women’s health showed that workers at some factories in the apparel and footwear industries face a range of common ailments, including upper respiratory tract infections (coughs and colds), headache, fatigue, and diarrhea.
Recent focus groups conducted by Better Work also revealed cases of workers skipping meals and factory doctors identifying signs of poor nutrition.
“Healthcare practices and nutrition issues affect both workers’ health and productivity at work”, said Better Work Vietnam Manager Nguyen Hong Ha.
“By supporting a healthy workforce, factories are investing not only in better lives for workers, but in better business outcomes too. In this respect it’s a win-win for all”.
20150513 * Viet labor’s Le Thi Cong Nhan handed TPP letter to US human rights dialogue representive:
To the US Representative in the Human Rights Dialogue with Hanoi,My name is Le Thi Cong Nhan.
I represent Free Viet Labor Federation (abbreviated to Viet Labor) established in January 2014 comprising three labor groups: Vietnam Independent Union (established in Vietnam before 2006), Viet Labor Movement (established in Vietnam in 2008) and Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers (established in Europe in 2006).
I respectfully request that you pay attention to and support Viet Labor on the following three issues:I – We are aware that issues such as wages, working conditions and social security are of primary importance to workers.
But these problems will never be solved properly and promptly if the employees do not have their own independent unions.
17:39:40 local time CAMBODIA
20150512 * Brands are key to achieving living wages in Cambodia:
Affiliates from Cambodia and the Philippines came together in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on May 7-8 to share experiences in their respective campaigns for a living wage and to plan future strategies.
Cambodia’s existing minimum wage fixing process has limitations and has not been able to deliver a living wage.
Representation on the wage-fixing council is not equal; research findings that the level of a living wage is much higher than the current minimum wage are not implemented; the government and employers are still worried that if the minimum wage is raised too high, brands will stop sourcing from Cambodia.
Affiliates welcomed IndustriALL’s engagement with global garment brands towards developing industry bargaining for garment workers.
IndustriALL policy director Jenny Holdcroft says:
“Garment buyers need to be engaged in discussions on wages, to make commitments towards continuing sourcing from Cambodia and to use their leverage with employers to increase the wage.”
A wages expert from the ILO provided valuable information on wage fixing mechanisms and how to use them. The importance of regular, steady increases to the minimum wage with annual adjustments, based on analysis and consensus-building was emphasized.
Union representatives from the Philippines shared their experiences with working with a minimum wage fixing mechanism which is built on by collective bargaining increases, and described how they are using these structures to continue their fight for a living wage.
20150511 * Overloaded Van Crash Injures Thirty-Five Garment Workers:
Dozens of garment workers were injured, three seriously, after a van transporting them to work overturned on National Road 1 in Svay Rieng province on Friday, police and health officials said Sunday.
The accident occurred early Friday morning as the van was transporting 35 workers to the Dragon King Special Economic Zone in Bavet City, according to Kuoy Yang, the city’s traffic police chief.
Mr. Yang said the van could only safely hold 15 passengers and was badly overloaded, causing the vehicle’s drive shaft to snap.
“The van overturned because the front of the drive shaft broke and smashed against the road,” he said. “The van was too old, and the driver had more than 30 passengers.”
20150508 * 30 workers injured in car crash in Bavet:
30 factory workers were injured on Friday morning when a vehicle they were traveling to work crashed on National Road No. 2 in Svay Rieng’s Bavet town, authorities said.
The vehicle carried 30 workers to work at a factory in Bavet town before it crashed, police said.
The police said back tire of the car exploded when the driver tried to overtake another car.
Six people were seriously wounded and were rushed with another workers to near hospital, police said.
20150511 * First Quarter Garment Exports Up 11 Percent, Ministry Says:
Cambodia’s year-over-year garment exports for the first quarter grew by 11 percent, according to the latest figures from the Commerce Ministry, indicating a possible recovery from a difficult 2014 for one of the country’s most important industries.
The value of garment exports hit $1.71 billion in the first three months of the year, up from $1.54 billion during the same period in 2014, according to Camcontrol, the Commerce Ministry’s import-export inspection unit.
At $5.75 billion, garments accounted for 80 percent of all exports last year, and made up roughly a third of the country’s gross domestic product, Camcontrol figures show.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150512 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 11 May 2015, First Quarter Garment Exports Up 11 Percent, Ministry says:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150508 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 05-08 May 2015, Union gathering funds for Nepalese workers:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-05-08 Police Stop Workers from Taking Petition to Japanese Embassy
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-05-06 Ministry throws garment pageant
2015-05-07 Union gathering funds for Nepalese workers
2015-05-08 Unionists ‘detained’ by authorities in Bavet
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150504 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 02-03 May 2015, Unions March on Labor Day Despite Warning:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-05-2-3 Unions March on Labor Day Despite Warning
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
18:39:40 local time MALAYSIA
20150512 * Malaysia’s Technical Textile Sector Urged To Tap Opportunities In Developed Markets:
While Malaysia’s texile and apparel industry may be facing fierce competition from low-cost suppliers in Asia and elsewhere, the country’s technical textile industry could tap the export opportunities inherent in developed countries.
Malaysia could build up a niche market in technical textiles in much the same way as the other high-cost suppliers such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Turkey have been doing.
The exhibition stands of these high-cost suppliers received a steady stream of buyers from the developed markets for technical textiles and non-wovens at the just-concluded Techtextil and Texprocess 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany, for technical textiles and non-wovens.
18:39:40 local time INDONESIA
20150509 * Textile sector to get Rp 3 trillion investment this year:
The country expects to receive Rp 3 trillion (US$230.15 million) in investment that will go to the textile and garment industry this year despite rising challenges by way of new electricity prices and increase in labor costs.
A sizeable portion of Rp 1 trillion will derive from a local firm, while the majority will come from foreign investors, particularly from China, South Korea and Taiwan, according to Indonesian Textile Association (API) chairman Ade Sudrajat.
“Most of the investment will be poured to Central Java,” Ade said on the sidelines of a recent seminar hosted by the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).
The manufacturing facilities to be financed by the planned investment were to produce apparel as investors anticipated greater market access that Indonesia was targeting through potential trade agreements with key buyers, such as the EU, he added.
Without free trade deals, Indonesian textile and garment producers are currently being charged duties ranging from 11 to 30 percent to main export destinations, including the EU and US. The trade arrangement may push down levies to as low as zero percent, resulting in an enhanced edge of traded goods in terms of price.
read more.& read more.
20150508 * South Korean Investors Eye $9.7b of Investments in Indonesia:
South Korean investors expressed their commitment to invest $9.7 billion in Indonesia in such industries as petrochemical and electricity generation following a visit by Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board, or BKPM, to Korea.
BKPM chief Franky Sibarani said in a statement on Friday that he met with South Korean investors during his visit to Seoul on Thursday.
In the meeting, investors delivered investment commitments totaling $9.7 billion, of which Franky explained, derived from various investments such as $4 billion for the petrochemical industry in Banten, $2.8 billion for coal gasification in South Sumatra and $2.79 billion for North Kalimantan.
The new projects include a hydropower plant in Lampung with total capacity of 145 megawatts and a garment industry in Central Java that could hire up to 4,000 workers.
17:09:40 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150513 * Garment labourers ordered to resume work:
The Labour Tribunal Commission has ordered 158 workers, including Moe Moe Khing from the Costec garment factory in Shwe Pyi Tha Township, to resume work their respective factories within 30 days.
Workers from the Costec and Ford Glory garment factories staged demonstrations in January in front of the factories calling for a minimum wage increase, the formation of labour unions, an end to discrimination against workers and the full protection of labour rights.
The commission’s decision also stipulated that if the workers do not resume work within the allotted time, they will effectively be resigning from their jobs and will not receive compensation.
The decision was passed down on May 7.
In the wake of the decision, many of the workers have pledged to resume their work.
“We, the workers from Ford Glory and Costec garment factories in Shwe Pyi Tha Industrial Zone, staged camp-in protests in front of the factories. In the case of the Costec garment factory, the Labour Tribunal Commission negotiated with the factory owner and local authorities. We will hold a meeting on Sunday, May 17, and we will resume our work on Monday and Tuesday.
20150511 * Development fund to build worker skills:
Young people wishing to acquire marketable skills can learn welding, electrical work or how to operate a lathe in training sessions provided free of charge by the government.
Daw Khin Mar Aye from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security said the ministry has been offering training every year in Yangon, Mandalay and Pathein in these basic skills free of charge to 300 youths who had not completed high school.
“Come and attend our training. We offer short courses of one-and-a-half months, and afterward you can get a job at Myaungdagar industrial zone earning K150,000 a month,” said Daw Khin Mar Aye, who is deputy director of the labour department.
Daw Khin March Aye made the remarks to The Myanmar Times at a May 7 ceremony to announce the launch of a fund to develop workers’ skills, held at Nay Pyi Taw’s Thingaha hotel.
“The new labour law provides for the setting-up of a fund for technical skills development, but we still have to draft the plans, raise the funds and form a [management] committee. In doing so, we will take into account the experience gained in Thailand and Singapore,” she said.
16:39:40 local time BANGLADESH
20150511 * Protesting garment workers:
Genuine concern for security evoking vindictive action?
It is a story of aggrieved garment workers – with a difference!
The ring of familiarity ends with their demand for payment of arrear salaries when this is drowned in the more strident chorus of serious grievances.
About a thousand workers of two factories in Ashulia protested on Saturday against random termination of services and closure of factories.
While making their five-point demand, they were organised, peaceful and articulate under the banner of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre marking a departure from the bashing or breaking sprees of the past.
Their demands rooted in a situational reality sounded logical.
They called for stoppage of retrenchment, payment of termination benefits in case of job loss, reopening of closed factories, an end to worker repression and of course, payment of arrears.
20150510 * Garment workers protest random termination:
Demand reopening of factory
About a thousand workers of two garment factories in Ashulia demonstrated in Savar Bus Stand area yesterday pressing home their five-point demand, including reopening a factory and ending random terminating of workers.
Workers of NRN Knitting and Garments Ltd and Natural Sweater Village Ltd-2 under the banner of “Garment Workers Trade Union Centre” formed a human chain on the Dhaka-Aricha highway and then brought out a procession from the Rana Plaza collapse site to Pakiza crossing.
The workers of NRN Knitting and Garments Ltd said after the recent earthquakes, they had demonstrated demanding the authorities examine the building their factory is house in to find out whether it was fit.
Afterwards, the factory management fired two workers, they claimed, adding when they protested the termination of their co-workers, the management again terminated 27 workers on May 3.
read more. & read more.
20150507 * DoE fines 4 factories Tk 20 lakh:
The Department of Environment (DoE) on Thursday fined four factories in Dhaka and Manikganj Tk 20 lakh for polluting rivers.
As part of an anti-pollution drive, the department summoned the management of three factories of Dhaka and one factory of Manikganj at its headquarters in the capital.
After hearings, DoE Director (Monitoring and Enforcement) Md Alamgir fined the three washing factories and a dyeing factory for releasing untreated waste into water bodies, said a DoE press release.
to read. & to read.
20150510 * Khulna Textile Mills closed for 21yrs, textile village uncertain:
Twenty years have passed since the Khulna textile mill was declared lay-off during the tenure of BNP government in 1993.
The mill was not reopened though authorities assured several times.
In 1999, during the then Awami League government’s tenure, an initiative was taken to set up a textile village on the mill premises. But the next government (BNP led alliance government) suspended the project after coming to power in 2001.
Later, in 2009 the AL government once again paid attention to its previous textile village project, but due to legal complexities the project Khulna Textile Palli (KTP) is yet to be implemented.
After the starting of the project in 2009, Rupali Bank filed a case to recover loan disbursed during Pakistan period.
The inhabitants of Khulna are apprehending whether allocation would be disbursed for Textile Palli the upcoming fiscal year budget.
20150509 * Ensuring rights of women and child workers:
The historic May Day was observed across the world, including Bangladesh, on May 1 to establish the rights of workers.
The day commemorated the struggle by workers at Chicago in the USA over a century ago to establish the rights of workers to a reasonable period of working hours in a day. On May 1, 1886, 10 workers were killed when police fired on a demonstration in the US city of Chicago near Hay Market demanding an eight-hour rather than a 12-hour working day.
But that sacrifice ultimately led to the authorities yielding to the workers’ demand and the eight-hour day has come to be introduced universally. The sacrifice of the workers forced the world leaders to help establish eight-hour working period for the workers instead of 16 hours.
In Bangladesh, the day was a public holiday. The occasion reminded us of the rights of the workers. We need to commit ourselves to a task of eliminating child labour and to protect the rights of the workers, especially of women workers.
In Bangladesh, workers are not treated fairly. There are huge under-age workers, who are deprived not only of education but also of their natural life. Many families rely on the income generated by their children for survival, so child labour is often highly valued.
Child labourers are also vulnerable to other abuses such as racial discrimination, maltreatment and sexual abuse.
Some work, such as domestic labour, is commonly regarded as an acceptable employment option for children, even though it too poses considerable risks.
The problem of female workers is a bit higher.
They work in insecure condition.
They even sometimes have to face sexual harassment.
It is alleged that women continue to face discrimination and they dominate the low paid jobs.
A BBS statistics said that women are engaged in more or less 58 professions, which include agriculture, domestic work, garment and sewing, poultry, dairy and nursery, production related, day labourer, textile, dyeing and weaving, whole sale and retailer (owner), teaching, salesman and hawker, bidi maker, medical, glass factory and pottery, post office, clerk, supervisor clerk, brick breaker, carpenter, fisheries, caretaker, cleaner, cook, food distributor and others.
20150513 * Berlin wants better compliance for trade promotion:
Germany has emphasised guarantee of workers’ rights, fair wages, safe working conditions and high environmental standards for promoting trade with Bangladesh.
German ambassador Thomas Prinz said this when he met foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali on Tuesday.
Last year, Germany and Bangladesh had a trade volume of more than 4.5 billion Euros, dominated Bangladesh’s readymade garments.
In that context, the ambassador stressed the need for promoting bilateral trade by ‘fostering dynamic business models’.
“This also means ensuring the sustainable management of supply chains by guaranteeing worker’s rights, fair wages, safe working conditions and high environmental standards,” he added.
Prinz said both western buyers and local producers have a “responsibility to work towards achieving these ambitious goals”.
20150512 * EU expects workers conditions will improve: Envoy:
European Union (EU) ambassador in Dhaka Pierre Mayaudon on Sunday said the EU Business Council, Bangladesh aims at bringing forward the country from a status of supplier of garments to a full fledged economic partner.
He said this while addressing a function in the capital on Sunday night, marking the Europe Day, reports UNB.
The EU envoy said this country deserves better than the image associated to low cost and cheap labour.
“This would do justice to the millions of actors of this silent revolution which is gradually taking Bangladesh out of poverty.”
20150513 * New Quarterly Aggregate Report on remediation progress at RMG factories is now available:
Accord signatories and others seeking information on a particular factory
20150510 * No factory inspection without fee after July 31:
ILO sets final deadline
The International Labour Organisation has set July 31 as the final deadline for the completion of a government-led safety inspection, which is sponsored by the ILO, in the readymade garment factories and after the deadline factory owners will have to bear the cost of safety assessment in their units, an ILO official said.
The ILO-sponsored inspection programme missed its previous deadline April 30 due to non-cooperation from some factory owners and inconsistency in information given about factory locations and contact numbers.
Recently, the ILO informed the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association that in consultation with the government they had set the deadline and this was the final timeframe for the factory owners to complete safety inspection in their units.
In a letter, ILO country director Srinivas Reddy urged BGMEA president Atiqul Islam to inform all the factory owners to come forward to enjoy the free of charge safety assessment until the end of this date.
‘….after which the cost of the assessment would have to borne by the building and factory owners,’ he said.
Reddy said that they would request the labour ministry to ensure that the completion of safety assessment in the factory would be a requirement or the eligibility of the export licence.
read more. & read more.
20150423/28/0512 * Two Years After Rana Plaza Collapse, Investors Still Look to Apparel Brands and Retailers for Remediation:
Lingering concerns remain over timeliness of major remediation efforts, the establishment of factory health and safety committees, and corporate commitments to victims’ fund
A coalition of global investors representing $2.5 trillion in assets have sent letters to corporate members of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (Accord) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) requesting that they disclose their efforts to safeguard the lives of workers in Bangladesh garment factories.
Tomorrow, 4/24/15, marks the second anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in the outskirts of Dhaka where over 1,100 garment workers lost their lives.
The event is considered one of the worst workplace disasters in history.
The Accord and Alliance were established in the wake of the disaster by apparel brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh to implement needed fire, electrical and building safety measures to prevent future garment factory tragedies from occurring.
The investor coalition has urged companies to join the Accord, which currently has over 200 members sourcing from 1,600 factories in the country.
Factory inspections for fire, electrical and building safety have identified issues requiring immediate remediation; however, while remediation programs requiring minor investments are being implemented, those requiring larger capital investments, such as construction defects and the installation of building-wide sprinkler systems, may be delayed as buyers and suppliers debate how these programs will be financed.
For investors pushing for the systemic changes needed to safeguard the industry in the long-term, these delays are seen as human rights risks.
“Investors recognize that additional issues need to be addressed,” stated Pawel Pieniazek, Research Analyst for Sweden’s GES, a signatory of the letter. “However, we view timely remediation financing and the formation of worker/management committees as key indicators for assessing if systemic changes are being carried out in garment factories producing for companies our clients invest in.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150514 * State minister upbeat on local denim exports:
The two-day Bangladesh Denim Expo ended in the capital with a fascinating fashion show staging by ramp models wearing various designs of jeans clothing, reports BSS.
State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam attended the concluding session at a city hotel Tuesday night and hoped that local denim producers will be able to increase Bangladesh global market share for jeans to US$ 7 billion from existing US$3.5 billion by 2021.
The state minister expressed his hope that the Bangladesh RMG sector will be able to cross the 50 billion US dollar benchmark of export volume by 2021 that will help the government achieve its goal to turn Bangladesh into a middle income one during celebration of the country’s 50 years of independence.
20150509 * Bangladeshi denim in demand across the globe:
The “Bangladesh Denim Expo” starts Monday at the Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel in the capital, aiming to showcase Bangladesh’s growth potential in the denim industry globally.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed will inaugurate the exposition as the chief guest on Monday morning while State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam will be the chief guest at its conclusion on Tuesday evening.
read more. & read more.
20150509 * Secure funding for RMG growth:
All stakeholders have a role to play
We welcome the suggestion made by the German ambassador to Bangladesh that global consumers should change their mindset about buying clothes at low prices.
In the long-term, the only way out of a race to the bottom in the garment supply chain is to secure more funds for improvements in working conditions and sustainability that benefits consumers and workers alike. The ambassador is right to ask brands and buyers to look more at pricing structures and pressures.
All stakeholders have a role to play in securing the estimated $1bn to $3bn of funds which the RMG sector needs to invest over the next few years to secure long-term growth.
The government can help by making more land available on which entrepreneurs can develop new industrial zones to allow more new purpose-built, higher productivity RMG factories to be constructed.
20150509 * Is it a sustained driver of economic growth and employment creation?:
The Bangladesh economy has witnessed significant structural changes over the last four decades.
The share of agriculture in GDP has declined while the relative significance of industry and services sectors has increased substantially. Over the past two decades or so, Bangladesh has experienced sustained overall economic expansion.
However, the economy is yet to have a strong manufacturing base.
The pace of reduction in agriculture’s share in overall employment has however been much slower than the pace of reduction in agriculture’s share in GDP.
This suggests that growth in the overall manufacturing and services sectors have not been strong enough to reallocate surplus labour from agriculture.
This indicates that as far as the overall manufacturing sector is concerned, there remains a challenge for employment creation at a larger scale.
Manufacturing is now an overwhelmingly salient component of the country’s export composition, thanks largely to the rapid expansion of the RMG industry.
RMG has been an important contributor to the growth and employment generation in Bangladesh.
However, the question remains as to whether the current structure of the manufacturing sector would continue as a sustained driver of economic growth and employment creation in Bangladesh in the future because of two reasons.
Firstly, given the existing heavy reliance on the RMG sector and weak performance of most of the non-RMG manufacturing sectors, achieving sustained and long term growth in the manufacturing sector in Bangladesh remains a challenge.
Secondly, it can be argued that the growth in the RMG sector in Bangladesh has, to a large extent, been driven by some sizeable ‘rents’ generated in this sector, and there are possibilities of shrinking the sizes of such ‘rents’ in the future due to both domestic and international factors.
There have been five major sources of ‘rents’: the Multifibre Arrangements (MFA) quota (which no longer exists) and the Generalised Systems of Preference (GSPs); different forms of subsidies; tax exemption; the labour regime; and compliance.
20150508 * Bangladesh kept outside US GSP list:
Bangladesh has been kept outside of a GSP renewal move by the US senate to return back the trade privilege for about 125 developing nations by next month, officials in the foreign ministry said.
The move would impact the country’s merchandise exports to its largest export destination badly and hurt the competitive edge of exporters over those in the rival economies, a trade expert in the commerce ministry said.
On April 22 and 23, the Senate finance and House ways and means committees approved legislation to renew the GSP, a trade programme that removes tariffs on nearly 5,000 products from 126 developing countries including Bangladesh, a senior commerce ministry official said, quoting a diplomatic communication.
‘GSP is finally making a move in the Senate.
But there is no news for Bangladesh,’ reads the diplomatic communication made from Bangladesh mission in Washington DC to foreign ministry in Dhaka last week.
‘Since suspension of GSP for Bangladesh took place in a different context, the USTR officials always underscore the need for improving workings conditions in RMG, attaining international labour standard and ensuring labour rights.’
After revoking the GSP, the USTR sent an action plan for Bangladesh to implement the conditions included in the plan to become eligible to get back the lost trade benefit.
Since then, at least four reviews were held with the latest being in April by the USTR to assess the implementation of the US action plan, sources at the commerce ministry said.
Officials concerned in the ministries of labour and foreign affairs said the USTR was now pressing the government to introduce labour rights and trade union facilities inside the export processing zones similar to those currently in force in factories outside the EPZ.
Besides, the US also wants rules to make the labour act 2013 effective and early enactment of EPZ act 2015, which was approved in the cabinet meeting last year.
20150508 * US set to renew GSP scheme sans BD:
Dhaka’s export may face tough competition
The US congress is set to enact a bill in the coming weeks renewing its GSP (Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme for 122 developing and least developed countries except Bangladesh, trade officials have said.
The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees on April 22 and 23 approved legislation to renew the trade facilitation programme that removes tariffs on nearly 5,000 products.
The tenure of the scheme expired on July 31, 2013. Before that the US government on June 27, 2013 had suspended the GSP for Bangladeshi products following deadly Rana Plaza collapse and fire incident in Tazreen Fashions citing serious shortcomings in workplace safety and workers’ rights.
Trade officials feared that Dhaka’s export to Washington might face tough competition as Bangladesh has been excluded from the list of eligible beneficiaries after the GSP scheme is renewed.
20150512 * Ticfa meaningless unless US offers trade: Tofail:
BGMEA chief berates Accord for over-exercising power
The cooperation deal with the US would be meaningless if it doesn’t follow flows of trade and investment into Bangladesh, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said Monday.
Bangladesh and the United States nailed down the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) in 2013 aiming to foster trade and investment between the two countries.
20150511 * Tariff Commission assessing pros and cons of TPP deal:
The government has started assessing the impact and possible adversities of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on the country’s trade and investment, officials said.
The agreement is now under negotiation by 12 countries across Asia Pacific region.
The Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) has taken up a research work to assess the pros and cons of the proposed TPP under instruction from the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) in this connection.
“Bangladesh will face strong challenges in exporting apparel, leather and some other items to the USA, Canada, and Japan markets if the country joins the deal. The competing countries will be Vietnam and Chile,” additional director of research at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Khondaker Golam Moazzem told the FE on Saturday.
The country should focus more on capturing China’s current market share as well as that of the European Union (EU) and it should work to regain GSP (generalised system of preferences) facility in the US market than signing the deal, experts said.
The country should take more realistic plans to strengthen its trading position with so-called non-traditional markets including Middle East, India and China, they added.
20150511 * Spinners demand warehouse facility for cotton trade:
The introduction of warehousing facility for cotton trade will immensely benefit the country’s spinners, as it will reduce lead-time and ensure the timely sourcing of the fibre, industry people said.
Under the facility, merchants from different countries will store cotton at warehouses at Chittagong port to sell to the local cotton importers and spinners. The merchants can also re-export the cotton from the port to other destinations.
The system is already in use by the Chinese government, which is the largest importer of cotton.
20150508 * Garment exports to US rebound:
Bangladesh’s apparel exports to United States rebounded in the January-March period of 2015 as the country overcame the setback of tragic Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire.
Following a continuous negative growth in 2014, Bangladesh’s readymade garment exports to the US market started to rebound with the beginning of the year 2015 and the exports to the US market grew by 6.25% in January-March period.
Though the apparel export figure of China to the US market is the highest, its (Chaina’s) growth rate is lower than Bangladesh.
Data showed that the China’s apparel exports to US in the first three months of the year 2015 increased by 4.93% to US$ 6.47 billion from US$ 6.17 billion in the same period of 2014.
Apparel export earnings of Vietnam from US in the first three months grew by 12.11% to US$ 2.43 billion from US$ 2.17 billion in the same period of the year 2014, according to the data.
Apparel export from India to the US market in the January-March period rose by 9.36% to US$ 1.03 billion from US$ 944.04 million in the same period of the year 2014, data showed.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150513 * Garment exports slow in April:
A file photo shows an inside view of garment factory in Dhaka as its employees left the workplace after a power outage.
The country’s export earnings in the financial year 2014-15 is set to fall around $2 billion short of target as readymade garment exports witnessed sluggish growth because of restructuring of the garment sector and also political turmoil, economists and exporters said. — New Age photo
Apparel export growth slowed last month as industry people say compliance requirement and recent political turmoil ate into income.
Exports proceeds slowed down to 1.16 per cent in April, compared with the same period last year, the Export Promotion Bureau said.
Exports of ready-made garment in July and August 2014 witnessed a 0.07 and 4.23 per cent growth compared to that of the same period of 2013 while the receipts fell by 2.06 and 9.69 per cent in the next two months-September and October, the bureau data showed .
But earning from overseas sales rebounded in November with 9.71 per cent growth in the same year and slowed down to 2.38 per cent in December again in 2014 while it has been maintaining a moderate growth since January of the year.
20150514 * Costs threaten to derail efforts to shift problem apparel factories:
Apparel makers are yet to get the desired benefit from the government’s budget support for duty-free import of pre-fabricated building materials as they find the structure still expensive due to other duties, industry insiders said.
On the other hand, accessories and packaging makers find it difficult to relocate their units as they do not get the same facility as garment makers enjoy.
They alleged that they are deprived of such benefit, though they are also involved in the export trade as the backward linkage industry and demanded the same benefit.
In the current budget, the government allowed the export-oriented readymade garment sector to import duty -free raw materials for setting up pre-fabricated buildings, mainly to encourage non-compliant garment units, especially those located in shared or rented buildings to relocate.
20150512 * Meghna Group to build two economic zones:
Meghna Group of Industries will build two economic zones on 325 acres of land at Sonargaon upazila in Narayanganj, the third in the private sector.
The construction of the two EZs — Meghna Economic Zone on 245 acres and Meghna Industrial Economic Zone on 80 acres — will be completed within a year. Once all the factories are fully operational, they will create about 30,000 jobs.
Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority yesterday handed over pre-qualification licences to the local conglomerate in Dhaka.
Meghna Group will lease out plots mainly to foreign investors, said Mostafa Kamal, chairman of the company, adding that the zones will help the country attract foreign investment.
The government is now paying special attention to the economic zones as it will help the country grab more foreign direct investment and create new jobs, said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of BEZA.
“We are getting good responses to establish factories in the EZs from Japan, China and India.”
Foreign and local investors have shown interest in the EZs, thanks to low labour costs, a large domestic market and government incentive packages, he added.
20150510-11 * PM addresses pvt EPZs problems:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday directed the authorities concerned for undertakings necessary steps in resolving the problems of two private export processing zones (EPZs) to make them functional.
The PM gave the directives in the 18th meeting of the Board of Governors of the Bangladesh Private Export Processing Zone (BPEPZ) held at PMO.
* And there was this story:
20150511 * ‘No one responsible for my miscarriage’:
Apex Footwear Factory authorities said no one in the factory was responsible for the miscarriage of Hamida Akter, the woman who reportedly gave birth to her pre-mature baby in the factory toilet because the supervisor did not grant her sick leave on Saturday.
Hamida was admitted to a private hospital of Shafipur under the supervision of the factory officials.
Hamida told the correspondent, “I had a miscarriage. I don’t blame anyone for my miscarriage.”
Sayeed Mohammad Mostafa, general manger of the factory, told the Prothom Alo that Hamida received maternal leave and allowance when she gave birth to her first baby.
However, this time, she did not inform the authorities that she was pregnant.
Hamida’s family members said she has a nine-month old son. She got pregnant around six months ago.
In a release, Apex Footwear said the factory doctor asked Hamida to take rest for a while and return to work if she feels okay.
She did not inform the doctor about her pregnancy.
After a while, she rushed to the factory toilet and had a miscarriage there.
The newspapers published the news without verifying the actual facts, it added.
20150511 * HC summons Apex Footwear MD, two others:
MATERNITY LEAVE DENIAL
The High Court on Sunday summoned the managing director, director of Apex Footwear and the logistics supervisor at the company’s factory at Gazipur to explain in person why the new born died after a female worker gave birth in the toilet of the factory.
On Saturday afternoon, Hamida Akhter, the mother gave birth to the child in the toilet of Apex Footwear’s factory at Harinhati , Kaliakoir, Gazipur.
The incident took place after the female worker was denied leave though she developed labour pain while working in the morning.
In the afternoon the female worker fainted at the factory toilet when she gave birth to the baby.
They were rushed to a local hospital where the doctors declared the infant dead.
According to the report, the factory’s logistics supervisor Ratan Miah asked the mother to pay attention to her work after she sought leave feeling labour pain.
In a statement on Sunday, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad demanded legal action against all for their gross negligence against the female worker at the lasting section in the factory of Apex Footwear.
Mahila Parishad also demanded diligent enforcement of the labour law stipulating 24-week maternity
leave, post delivery health care and other facilities to all female workers.
20150510 * Child born in toilet: 3 factory officials summoned:
A day after a woman gave birth to a baby in a toilet of a factory as she was not granted leave, the High Court today summoned three officials of a footwear factory in Kaliakoir upazila of Gazipur asking them to appear before it on May 24.
The baby was declared dead when the newborn was taken to a local hospital.
Following today’s HC order, managing director Syed Nasim Manzur, inspector Azizur Rahman and supervisor Ratan Miah of Apex Footwear Factory will have to appear before the court around 10:30am on that day to explain their role in the incident.
According to the report, garments worker Hamida Akhter yesterday applied to the factory authorities for her maternity leave but the authorities did not approve it.
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16:09:40 local time INDIA
20150514 * Cabinet approves changes to Child Labour Act, bans employment of those below 14 years:
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a ban on employment of children below 14 years, with a caveat that children can pursue family businesses, entertainment and sports activities after school or in vacations.
The penalty provisions for employing a child have been increased to jail term of three years and fine of up to Rs 50,000.
Children can be employed only in non-hazardous family enterprises, TV serials, films, advertisements and sporting activities (except circus) with a condition that they would be made to do these jobs after school hours.
The decision has been slammed by child rights activists as retrograde advocating a complete ban saying it was in contravention with the Right to Education Act.
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20150514 * The amendment to Child Labour Act is welcome, but it’s hardly enough:
After a prolonged wait, the Cabinet on Wednesday finally gave its approval to banning all kinds of child labour under the age of 14 years.
This was primarily to align itself with the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 which makes education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6-14 years.
While the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 banned the employment of children up to the age of 14 in hazardous occupations, this proposed Amendment bill prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes.
The term child labour refers to the subset of children’s work that is injurious, negative or undesirable to children and that should be targeted for elimination.
The cabinet, however, has allowed a small exemption—children below the age of 14 can work in family enterprises, farm lands but only after school hours and on holidays. The condition is that such enterprises should not involve any hazardous occupation.
India has seen a tremendous spurt in school enrolment particularly at the elementary level, due to efforts made by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) as well as the Right to Education Act, 2009.
20150514 * Govt to allow children to work in family firms, film industry:
Cabinet approves amendments to put a ban on employment of children below 14 years
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Bill to allow children below 14 years of age to work for family businesses and as a child artist after school hours, while putting a complete ban on all the other occupations.
The government has allowed these exemptions looking at the “socio-economic conditions” of the country. The move has left child rights activists fuming. According to them, it is as good as a “backdoor entry” for child labour.
The new amendments propose to make child labour a cognisable offence. Offenders would face imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for an offence under the new law, after it is passed in Parliament.
Parents or guardians would not be punished for the first offence but the penalty would be a maximum of Rs 10,000 for second and subsequent offences.
20150514 * Total ban on child labour soon:
In a significant overhaul of child labour laws, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to ban employment of children aged under 14 in all kinds of commercial enterprises.
The Child Labour Prohibition Act, 1986, imposes the ban on only 18 hazardous industries.
However, keeping in mind the “social fabric” of the country, the Cabinet has made an exception for work done in family enterprises and on farmlands, provided it is done after school hours and during vacations.
The proposed amendment Bill will be in sync with the Right to Education Act that guarantees children aged between six and 14 the right to go to school.
Also, children working as artists in the audiovisual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities, except circus, have been granted exemption, provided “such work does not affect their school education.”
The Cabinet has barred employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes in the chemical industry and mines.
20150511 * Shoe factory gutted:
A footwear factory in North West Delhi’s Keshavpuram was gutted early on Sunday morning, the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) said.
Though there were no casualties, products and machines worth several lakhs of rupees were burnt and permanently damaged.
The fire department said they had to dispatch 28 fire tenders to control the blaze. It took the fire fighters over two hours to completely douse the flames.
Short-circuit is suspected to have started the fire.
However, nothing could be said with certainty and various possibilities are being looked into, said a police officer.
It is also being checked if the factory had the necessary licenses to operate and whether they were complying with the fire safety norms, the officer added.
20150510 * Fire at shoe factory in Delhi:
A fire broke out at a shoe factory in Delhi’s Keshavpuram on Sunday, fire brigade officials said.
According to Times Now, 28 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The fire brigade officials took 90 minutes to douse the fire.
There were no casualties. Investigations are on to ascertain the cause of fire.
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20150510 * 45 factory workers fall ill after drinking RO water:
45 workers of a garment factory here fell ill after drinking suspected contaminated water from the Reverse Osmosis (RO) system.
The workers, including women, of Renuka Inc were found vomiting and fell unconscious due to nausea this afternoon.
They were rushed to the nearby Sarvoday Hospital in Sector-19 here, said R S Bhati, an official in the company’s HR department.
The workers informed the hospital staff that they fell ill after drinking water from the RO system installed in the factory.
The workers used to drink this water on routine basis but have never complained of any problem, Bhati said.
20150511 * Power loom workers’ strike ends:
The fortnight-long strike by the power loom workers of Pallipalayam came to end on Sunday, thanks to the wage revision settlement arrived at during the talks held in the presence of State Industries Minister P. Thangamani.
The power loom owners agreed to hike the wages by 21.5 per cent and also give the revised wages with retrospective effect from April 1, during the talks which continued till Saturday midnight.
The workers employed in more than 20,000 power looms in Pallipalayam and surrounding areas began the indefinite strike on April 26 demanding new wage revision pact. The previous wage agreement expired a few months ago.
The power loom workers unions affiliated to the CITU, AITUC, AICCTU and other unions demanded 25 per cent hike in wages.
20150513 * Demand for more workdays, better pay:
Enhancing working days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from the present 100 to 200 days and minimum wages to Rs. 350 was among the many demands that came up at a validation workshop on the scheme held at the collectorate on Tuesday.
The workshop was organised by the district poverty alleviation unit in association with the State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD) in the wake of an evaluation report prepared on the implementation of the scheme in the district by M.G. University’s School of International Relations and Politics.
20150510 * Decoding the new labour code:
Proposals in the wage and industrial relation codes could reshape labour-management ties
In 2002, the Second Commission on Labour Laws proposed radical changes in the country’s labour laws to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Among other proposals, the commission suggested labour laws be broadly grouped into segments pertaining to
1) industrial relations
3) social security
4) safety and
5) welfare and working conditions.
It took nearly 13 years for the government to give the recommendation careful thought.
Now, the Union government plans to replace 44 laws with five codes relating to wages, industrial relations, small factories, social security and welfare.
It is in the preliminary stages of discussions with stakeholders from the Centre and states on wage and industrial relation codes.
The proposals in these two codes contain some radical changes, which could reshape labour-management ties in India.
A unified wage code broadly merges four Acts – the Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Wages Act, the Payment of Bonus Act and the Equal Remuneration Act into a comprehensive code. Each of these laws defines wages differently.
The code, however, has a uniform definition, as stipulated by the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
20150510 * Labour Ministry to push reforms in Monsoon session:
It would be difficult to push any bill on labour reforms in last leg of ongoing Budget Session
The government’s key labour reforms bills on industrial relations, wages code, small factories and EPF are likely to be introduced in the next monsoon session of Parliament, sources said.
“The Labour Ministry has been working on bills like the ones on industrial relations, wages, EPF and small factories which would now be pushed in the monsoon session,” a senior Labour Ministry official said.
It would be difficult to push any bill on labour reforms in the last leg of ongoing Budget Session which ends on May 3, the official said.
20150511 * India’s new national textiles policy currently under finalization:
India’s new national textiles policy is being finalized which aims to achieve USD 300 billion textiles exports by 2024-25 and envisages creation of additional 35 million jobs.
The Textiles Ministry has set up an expert committee headed by Ajay Shankar, member secretary, national manufacturing competitiveness council for review and revamp the textile policy 2000.
Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar in his written reply to the Rajya Sabha mentioned that the expert committee has since submitted a draft vision, strategy and action plan. The new National Textiles Policy, is currently under finalization.
Keeping in view various changes in the textile industry on the domestic and international fronts and the need for a road map for the textile & apparel industry, Ministry of Textiles had initiated the process of reviewing the National Textile Policy, 2000.
So far 70 textiles parks have been approved throughout the country.
20150512 * 893 textile units in Sanganer served closure notices:
Following a high court order, the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) has issued closure notices to 893 textile units in Sanganer.
All these units have failed to install a common effluent treatment plant (CETP) and are discharging 17-18 million litres per day (MLD) of untreated chemical water into Dravyawati river.
The power department and PHED have been asked to snap all electricity and water connections of the identified units. The court has asked to shut 213 units by May 31 and rest by June 30. The district administration and police have been asked to support the departments concerned in implementing the court order.
According to the RSPCB officials, the board has to submit a compliance report on May 18. “A total of 893 units were asked to stop their operations. The action-taken report will be presented before the court,” said Aparna Arora, chairperson, RSPCB.
20150512 * Focus on investor-friendly environment:
New industrial policy targets to increase contribution of manufacturing to GSDP from 9.95 p.c. in 2013-14 to 15 p.c. by 2020
Aware of the massive task ahead in building Navya Andhra Pradesh, the government in its new industrial development policy 2015-20 wants to create an investor-friendly environment to ensure sustainable and inclusive industrial growth.
Besides introducing single desk clearance, it promises to set up an international desk to attract FDI. The international desks will provide bespoke investor facilitation, handholding services in the form of local information and expertise besides a portal focusing on business opportunity related information.
The government has identified 10 thrust areas, which include agro and food processing, aerospace and defence, mineral-based industry, life sciences, leather, textile and apparel, electronics and IT, energy and petroleum and chemicals.
20150513 * Slow growth in textile, clothing export:
In June 2014, Union textiles minister Santosh Gangwar had said sector exports in 2014-15 were expected to grow 25 per cent to $50 bn
Sluggish global demand and declining competitiveness is expected to mean less of export in 2014-15 for the textile and clothing (T&C) sector. The dip, say industry sources, should be five per cent.
On a stand-alone basis, though, apparel export is expected to show 10-13 per cent growth. However, this would be the lowest in recent years.
From Union textiles ministry data, the Business Standard Research Bureau says the 10-month period of April 2014 to January 2015 saw T&C export grow almost four per cent, to $34 billion.
Extrapolated, it would mean $41 bn for the year, growth of 3.8 per cent. In 2013-14, this rise was 12.4 per cent, to $39.3 bn.
20150508 * India’s overall textile exports to miss official growth target of 15%:
India’s overall textile and garment exports that also include those of jute, coir, handicrafts and handloom items to not only miss the initial official growth target of 15% for 2014-15 but fall short of the 5% expansion rate expected until recently.
The government had initially set the export target at $45 billion for 2014-15, compared with the actual exports of $39.3 billion in the previous fiscal.
According to the latest official data, the overall textile and garment exports has grown by just 1.7% touching $35.29 billion during the April-February period, compared with 34.72 billion a year before, while imports have risen by 14.2% during the period,
20150513 * ‘Hypertension prevalence on the rise in Tirupur knitwear cluster’:
Stressful life is seemingly taking its toll on the health of the people in Tirupur industrial cluster as prevalence of hypertension has increased in the last one decade.
“Random studies indicate that 25 per cent of the population over the age of 50 years and around 20 per cent of people below 50 years are having hypertension in Tirupur cluster, which means their diastolic pressure is 90 mmHG (millimeter of mercury) or above and the systolic pressure is above 140 mmHG.
This apart, a good chunk of people are in a pre-hypertension state, which means the diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89 mmHG and systolic pressure in the range of 120 mmHG and 139 mmHG,” A. Muruganathan, national president of Hypertension Society of India, a forum of doctors, told The Hindu .
20150512-13 * KPR Mill to invest Rs 175 crore for new garment manufacturing facility:
Development comes on the backdrop of increase in interest from the global customers in Tirupur
Coimbatore-based KPR Mill will invest Rs 175 crore to set up a green field manufacturing facility with a capacity of 36 million garments per annum.
The development comes on the backdrop of increase in interest from global customers in the knitwear hub of Tirupur.
According to the company, with the consumerism and disposable income on the rise, the Indian Textile & Apparel sector has experienced a swift growth in the past few years with several international players having entered Indian market.
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20150513 * Handloom linked to culture, needs to be preserved:
India’s handloom sector is attached to culture, sentiment and emotion, along with the livelihood of thousands of craftsmen, whose work needs to be preserved, says designer Anuradha Ramam.
She is opposed to change in the Handloom Reservation Act, which since 1985 has protected handloom weaves from being copied by machine-made and powerloom competitors.
“I am not personally of the opinion that the handloom industry is (being) taken away from the weavers. They possess the skill which they are passing on to the next generations and India is mainly known as the handloom industry of the world,” the designer told IANS.
“The ongoing talks regarding amendment in the Handloom Act, 1985, will make the situation more worse and it will lose its USP as the original, pure form of fabric, made by weavers by applying their skills and aesthetic sense, which needs preservation not destruction,” she said.
20150513 * Governor to lay foundation stone of handloom centres:
Governor Ram Naik will lay the foundation stone of seven handloom common facility centres at Kardhana in Sevapuri block on Wednesday. Union minister of state for textiles (independent charge) Santosh Gangwar will also be present.
According to DGM (HR), National Handloom Development Corporation Limited, S S Dhakarwal, the textile minister will also plant saplings at the site of Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum at Bada Lalpur and interact with intellectuals at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
20150513 * Common Facility Centres to help 1 lakh weavers upgrade skills: Santosh Gangwar:
Union Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar today laid the foundation stone of seven handloom common facility centres here, which will help one lakh weavers from the city upgrade their skills.
“The centres will help Varanasi’s one lakh weavers in upgrading their skills and thereby in empowering themselves,” Gangwar said.
The minister also said a National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) subcentre is being planned in Varanasi.
The common facility centres (CFCs) are being set up in Varanasi Mega Handloom Cluster, under the Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme. These centres will provide infrastructural and other kinds of support to groups of handloom weavers at block level.
20150510 * Jacquard weavers fate patchy due to digitally printed fabrics:
Faced with stiff competition from digital textile printed fabrics and decrease in demand in domestic and international market, jacquard weavers in the country’s largest man-made fabric (MMF) hub here are at the receiving end.
The price of weaving jacquard fabrics in the domestic and international markets has decreased from Rs 4 to Rs 16 per metre.
This has forced the 1,000-odd jacquard weavers in the city’s Sachin GIDC to cut down production by observing a day’s closure on Saturday.
They will be meeting again on May 15 to decide whether to close the units for two days a week to control overproduction.
The jacquard is weaved on a loom having a jacquard attachment to control individual warps and is used for making brocades, tapestries and damasks. Fabrics of these type are costly because of the time and skill that go into making of jacquard cards, preparing the loom to produce a new pattern, and the slowness of the weaving operation.
20150509 * Jute industry expects discussion in Modi-Mamata meet:
West Bengal jute industry, which has rendered about one lakh workers jobless, is pinning hopes on today’s meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, to end its woes.
“Already 15 mills have closed making nearly one lakh workers jobless. More will face closure unless there is assurance of adequate orders. We hope that the matter will come up in the meeting …,” former Indian Jute Mills Association Chairman Sanjay Kajaria told PTI.
20150513 * Ahmedabad group of businessmen work to empower cotton farmers:
Volun-Teach (voluntary teaching) is the group of businessmen from Ahmedabad who are working to empower farmers and their families at their doorstep to produce yarn from their own cotton by helping to set up plants with miniature spinning machines made by Kannan’s Microspin Machine Works in the largely cotton-growing North Gujarat and Saurashtra regions.
The beginning was made from Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, more known for cotton farmers’ suicide.
It is now set to take root in rural Gujarat following the efforts of a group of businessmen in Ahmedabad.
The plants will be of farmers, by the farmers and for the farmers.
20150511 * Install flow meters in tanneries: Uma Bharati:
Union minister for water resources Uma Bharati on Saturday asked the tannery owners of Jajmau area to install flow meters in their units to check tannery discharge in Ganga.
At a review meeting held here on Saturday with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), representatives of Kanpur Development Authority, Kanpur Municipal Corporation, Jal Nigam, Ganga Pollution Control Board unit and Tannery owners, the minister said that the Central government was serious for online monitoring of pollution in Ganga.
The minister asked the defaulter tannery owners to pay their dues so that treatment plant could be run properly. She instructed the KMC officials to run the chromium plant in full capacity and connect more tanneries in this project.
16:09:40 local time SRI LANKA
20150510 * Sri Lankan government to present legislation on minimum wage for private sector employees:
The Labor Ministry in Sri Lanka says that legislation to set a minimum wage for all private sector employees will be presented to parliament shortly.
The draft Bill has stipulated that the minimum monthly wage of any private sector employee to be Rs.10,000, regardless of whether the employee falls under categories named under the Shop and Office Act or the Wages Board Act.
The Bill has reportedly been sent to Attorney General’s Department for approval.
Labor and Labor Relations Ministry Secretary Herath Yapa has said the proposed legislation will benefit more than 1.5 million private sector employees in the country.
Minister of Labor S.B. Nawinna has proposed to increase the wages of private sector employees from May 01.
According to his proposal, the minimum wage of private sector employees will be Rs.10, 000, while the minimum daily wage would be Rs.400. Every private sector employee should receive a minimum base salary of Rs. 10,000 from May 01.
20150507 * Sri Lankan unions come together for major wage hike:
IndustriALL affiliates in Sri Lanka has through collective actions achieved a wage increase for private sector workers by 15 – 35 per cent, making the minimum national wage for the sector SLR 10,000.
The new Sri Lankan Government has agreed to enhance wages of the Private Sector workers by SLR 2,500, equaling a raise of between 15 and 35 per cent. This sets the minimum wage for private sector workers at SLR 10,000 per month.
Meanwhile, state sector employees have seen their wages revised by SLR 10,000, resulting in a minimum wage of SLR 30,400, including allowances and benefits.
IndustriALL Sri Lanka Council and affiliates have been fighting for an increased minimum wage in the private sector for a few years, and played a major role in this latest success.
15:39:40 local time PAKISTAN
20150511 * Dysfunctional Swat labour directorate troubles workers:
Factory workers in Malakand division have demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to appoint deputy director to the labour directorate in Swat to mitigate their miseries.
Talking to mediapersons here on Sunday, Swat Federation of Labour Malakand Division general secretary Ghani Raziq said that there were about 400 factories of marble, cosmetics, silk, snacks and shoes in the valley, providing livelihood to thousands of workers.
But, owing to dysfunctional regional doctorate of labour they were facing serious problems.
Mr Raziq said of the 450 silk industries in different parts of Swat district only 20 were functioning owing to cost on supply of raw material, excessive loadshedding, law and order situation and non-availability of technical staff.
The Swat labour federation’s leader said a labour officer who was recently transferred from Mardan to Swat never took action against factory owners for violating labour laws.
20150510 * President calls for inclusion of women in all work spheres:
Women make up more than 55 percent of the population and they should be adorned with knowledge of modern academic disciplines and technologies to fully participate in every profession so they could play their role in nation building.
This was said by President Mamnoon Hussain on Saturday while addressing the convocation of Jinnah University for Women, the first exclusive female varsity of the country.
Emphasising the promotion of quality and modern education for women of the country, the president urged the graduates to excel in their studies and contribute towards the social and economic revolution of the country.
20150512 * Pakistan will continue to reap GSP Plus benefits:
Federal Minister for Commerce Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan on Monday said that Pakistan would continue to reap the benefits of GSP Plus, as it is complying with all the obligations necessary for the continuity of GSP Plus status.
The Minister informed the delegation that Pakistan is fulfilling all the legal requirements related to 27 human rights conventions of United Nations which it required under the GSP Plus status.
20150510 * Continuous trend: Situation deteriorates for textile sector:
After a bad year in 2014, the textile sector of the country has taken a turn for the worse. It is not only losing its grip on the export market but its share in the domestic market is also slipping.
There are multiple reasons behind this dwindling trend, especially in Punjab, which accounts for nearly 70% of the total textile units operating in Pakistan.
High cost, energy shortages, no zero-rating, absence of institutional support, policy and implementation divide are a few of them.
Since the past few years, the uncertainty in the textile industry has hindered the replacement of old technology while investment for new machinery was limited, despite the grant of the GSP Plus status.
20150510 * Last budget incentives for textile sector not implemented yet:
More than 30 per cent working capital of textile sector is stuck-up under refund regime, while several incentives announced in previous budget 2014-15, including ‘Rationalization of Refund Regime’ and ‘Complete Settlement of all Outstanding Refund Claims till 2014’ could not be implemented so far.
“Pakistan textile policy for 2009-14 with outlay of Rs188 billion could be implemented only 15 per cent while textile policy 2014-19 with total outlay of Rs 64 billion was announced with a long delay and its notification is not issued yet.”
These views were expressed by the PRGEMA central chairman, Ijaz Khokhar, and vice chairman, Malik Naseer, at a meeting held here on Saturday.
The participants of the meeting, organized by the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, called for giving special status to export-oriented value-added textile industry allowing it zero rating facility to boost new investment and revive economic growth.
20150514 * Most of textile units remain closed in protest:
Most of the textile processing units were remained closed, here on Wednesday as a mark of protest against the harassment of business community by abusing Section 38 and 40-B of the Sales Tax and a protest rally was also taken out by owners, workers and Industrialists.
Addressing a protest demonstration outside the City District Government Offices, Acting Regional Chairman, All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, Sheikh Khalid Habib and other leaders including Chaudhry Habib Ahmad, Rehan Akhtar and Chairman, Power looms Owners Association, Waheed Khaliq Ramey stated that earlier Sec 40-B was invoked against only textile processing units but now this clause is being used against bakeries, manufacturers of agricultural appliances and small traders also.
20150513 * Industry, trade divided on today’s strike:
Industrialists will go on strike on Wednesday (today) against the Federal Bureau of Revenue for issuing sales tax notices to the industry.
However, the Anjuman-i-Tajran City, a main representative body of Clock Tower bazaar and markets, will not join the protest.
The FBR officials have declared the strike unjustified and said they had detected sales tax evasion to the tune of Rs1,188 million and registered eight cases against some businessmen.
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20150514 * 6% import duty on PSF detrimental to textile industry:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has said that six per cent import duty on import of polyester staple fiber (PSF) has ruined the textile industry as it has become uncompetitive when incidental charges are added to the import duty.
APTMA Chairman S.M Tanveer said the regional competitors are offering duty drawbacks besides rebate to their textile industries.
Resultantly, textile exports from Pakistan has become 18% more expensive against the regional competitors due to higher domestic Polyester Fibre price e.g. in China, the FOB price for PSF is 70.1 Yuan/kg (U.S $ 1.13/Kg.) whereas in Pakistan it is Rs.137/Kg. ($1.34 /Kg), this difference is further compounded by the higher cost of doing business.
Textile industry in Pakistan is becoming unviable in terms of export of yarn and fabric he said, the industry growth has become stagnant due to non-diversification since long.
He further highlighted that the world dependence on Polyester is around 70% at present against merely 19% in Pakistan.
This situation has made it difficult for local industry to find place in the world market.
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20150512 * APTMA seeks zero-rated regime and not subsidies:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association is seeking an effective zero-rating regime and not subsidies to increase the country’s exports.
A spokesman said the textile industry was an export-oriented industry and it should not be burdened with innovative taxes and inefficiencies of the system and feared that heavy closures in case the government alters the reduced rate regime.
20150512 * PTEA seeks zero-rated ST facility:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has demanded the government to allow zero rating sales tax facility on export oriented-textile chain in the coming budget 2015-16 as it will help to restore the competitive edge for Pakistani textiles in international market and will also up lift the exports and strengthen the national economy.
Talking to newsmen here on Monday, Sohail Pasha, Chairman and Rizwan Riaz Saigal, Vice Chairman PTEA said that PTEA has already forwarded a comprehensive proposal of zero rating of sales tax to FBR for implementation in next fiscal year.
20150511 * APBUMA opposes proposed increase in sales tax:
All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstery Manufacturers Association (APBUMA)’s Chairman Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, who is also former Punjab Minister for Industries has strongly opposed the proposed increase from 2pc to 5pc in sales tax on raw material and changes in tax regime, saying that this will create a negative impact on textile exports.
He said that textile sector might be ruined if more sales tax was imposed on raw material in next budget 2015-16 .
Roomi said that this move would adversely affect exports at a time when huge amount of sales tax refunds are already stuck up with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
“The textile export sector has already been reeling under severe energy shortage, hike in tariffs, and high cost of production,” he said, adding that in the prevailing economic conditions, a rising cost of production is the core issue for textile exporters.
20150510 * Garment makers for zero-rating facility:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) has called for giving special status to export-oriented, value-added textile industry by allowing it zero-rating facility, in order to attract new investment and revive economic growth.
“The value-added textile sector should be given special status through its separation from other textile chains as it is generating more employment and more revenue,” Prgmea Chairman Ijaz Khokhar said in a statement on Saturday.
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20150510 * PRGEMA calls for giving special status to textile industry:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGEMA) has called for giving special status to export-oriented value-added textile industry allowing it zero rating facility to boost new investment and revive economic growth.
“Value-added textile sector should be given special status by separating it from other textile chains as it is generating more employment and more revenue.”
PRGEMA central chairman, Ijaz Khokhar, and vice chairman, Malik Naseer, in a joint statement, said that more than 30 percent working capital of the textile sector is stuck-up under refund regime, because several incentives announced in previous budget 2014-15, including ‘Rationalization of Refund Regime’ and ‘Complete Settlement of all Outstanding Refund Claims till 2014’ could not be implemented so far.
read more. & read more.
20150510 * Textile industry not viable without subsidies: APTMA:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association and group leaders believe the textile industry in Pakistan needs ownership of the government.
Association Chairman SM Tanveer and a group leader Gohar Ejaz have said, “The textile industry has become unviable because of the heavily subsidised textile industries in the competing countries of the region.”
The association leadership was briefing a select group of journalists at the Punjab office on the plight of the textile industry after comparing it with the Indian textile industry on the basis of a study conducted by the Gherzi International, a Switzerland-based textile industry consultancy.
Group leader Ejaz said no industry could sustain on selling its assets. “The government is not responding to the problems of the textile industry despite repeated calls,” he lamented, and demanded that the association chairman be swiftly appointed as textile industry minister.
20150513 * Auspicious status: GSP Plus strengthening national economy, says CM:
Chief minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that the granting of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status to the nation by the European Union (EU) was an auspicious omen that was strengthening the national economy.
He was speaking to an EU delegation led by Development and Economic Cooperation Director Marc Vanheukelen.
The chief minister expressed grief over the untimely deaths of two ambassadors and the spouses of two other envoys in the recent helicopter crash in Naltar. He said the government and the nation shared the sorrow of the families of the deceased.
The chief minister said EU member states had extended all out assistance to Pakistan with regard to getting the status. He said comprehensive measures were being implemented to derive maximum benefit from the status.
The chief minister said a cabinet committee had been constituted to ensure the implementation of conventions associated with the status.
Sharif said the Labour Department had been given the responsibility of eradicating child labour at brick kilns within six months.
He said the department would have to work around-the-clock to realise this goal. The chief minister said women and minority-friendly legislation had been introduced.
He said women were being provided interest-free loans on priority basis to make them financially independent.
20150510 * The second strategic sale: Privatisation Commission pre-qualifies 8 bidders:
The Privatisation Commission board has pre-qualified eight bidders in the strategic sale of National Power Construction Corporation, as reputable firms vied for acquiring the entity that, according to the government’s expectations, may fetch a minimum of Rs2 billion.
Mahmood Textiles, with a net worth of Rs4 billion, was also declared as prequalified bidder.
Some of the officials were of the view that Mahmood Textiles did not have relevant experience – an argument that Zubair said was irrelevant in the present corporate world.
20150510 * Duration of gas load shedding for textile sector increased by 2 hours:
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) S M Tanvir told media on Sunday that the duration of gas load shedding for Punjab’s textile industry has been increased by two hours and now the industry gets gas for only 6 hours.
He said that the shortage of gas in summer is beyond understanding and if the gas shortage continues, the export target could not be achieved.
Tanvir said that load shedding of gas will increase unemployment.
He appealed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Shraif to take notice of the load shedding.
20150508 * Progress linked to industrial growth:
The panelists at an industrial exhibition on Thursday linked economic growth and prosperity with industrial development and contribution of both industry and academia to it.
The two days event, ‘Industrial Open House Fair,’ was organised at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology here.
The speakers said the government should strengthen academia-industry interaction by providing financial support to academia to produce students according to the requirements of local industry and in light of the emerging industrial and technological trends in the developed world.
20150514 * Foreign forces trying to sabotage Pak-China corridor project: PM:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Wednesday said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was aimed at economic progress of the entire region as it would help boost trade and improve connectivity.
He was addressing parliamentary leaders gathered here at the Prime Minister’s House for a briefing on the CPEC.
The prime minister said the foreign forces, which did not view the close working of Pakistan with China and the project positively, and were trying to sabotage the project, must realise that it was not against any country, rather it was beneficial for the entire region.
20150513 * Diplomacy of hospitality: PM to host lunch to settle corridor route controversy:
As criticism over the alleged change in the route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) intensifies, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited leaders from all political parties to lunch on Wednesday (today) to address their concerns.
“The prime minister has called all parties’ leaders over for lunch to discuss the economic corridor,” Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif told a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.
The corridor has attracted considerable criticism after allegations emerged that the route has been changed to avoid most cities in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and instead pass through Punjab and Sindh.
Historically, Pakistan’s transportation infrastructure has been relatively more developed in the eastern two provinces and far less developed in the western two provinces. CPEC was seen by many in the smaller provinces as an opportunity to correct that historical imbalance, an opportunity that many thought the Nawaz Administration might squander.
“They have given us nine questions about the Economic Corridor including funding from China which they alleged was not an investment but loans,” he said, adding that all agreements which were signed during Chinese President Xi Jingping’s visit were investments and not loans.
read more. & read more.
15:09:40 local time AFGHANISTAN
* Afghanistan’s goat farmers find luxury niche in cashmere:
Not so long ago, Afghan farmers collected the thick winter undercoat their goats shed every spring and threw it on the fire to heat their homes and cook their food.
Some have since learned that the super-soft fluff that comes off in clumps as the weather warms up, once cleaned, refined and spun into yarn is cashmere — a luxury product that finds customers as far away as the United States, Britain and Europe.
It’s changed life for goat herders like Mohammad Amin. He has 120 goats grazing the open spaces around an industrial park on the outskirts of the western city of Herat. At this time of year, most of the female goats have kids and shed the cashmere, which Amin pulls off in huge handfuls.
With an extended family of 13, he has a guaranteed income from the best of the cashmere he harvests as traders, processors, donors and international businesses are cottoning on to Afghanistan’s potential as a major producer. “Buyers come to us and buy the good quality cashmere, rest we take to the market and sell.”
Each animal yields up to 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of cashmere, Amin said. Each season he can earn more than 61,250 afghanis ($1,100) — not bad in a country where the annual national average is less than $700.
Only about 30 to 40 per cent of Afghanistan’s seven million goats are combed for cashmere, according to estimates by the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development, even though up to 95 per cent of the animals could become part of the production chain. Most of the raw product is bought by traders who sell it to Chinese middlemen to feed the mills that produce affordable clothing for much of the world.
Afghanistan is the world’s third biggest producer of cashmere, its 1,000 metric tonnes a year, worth $30 million, accounting for seven per cent of the global market — though it lags far behind China’s 70 per cent and Mongolia’s 15 per cent.
15:39:40 local time UZBEKISTAN
20150508 * Teachers of Uzbekistan reportedly sent to collect cotton:
High school and college teachers, medical workers of Djizak, Samarkand, and Kashkadarya regions were sent to the spring agricultural works, reports Uzbek Radio Liberty (Ozodlik).
One of the teachers said that school and college teachers are forced to work on the cotton field in Kattakurgan district of Samarkand region since May 5. If they refuse to work, they will be fired.
Collection of cotton continues in the fields of Djizak region day and night.
15 people must reportedly work from each school on the field. Teachers have to go to cotton fields leaving the school work, according to a teacher of Djizak region.
Representatives of the regional education office did not refute the information and involvement of teachers in the agricultural work. However, according to them, no orders have been made from government on attracting teachers to collection of cotton.
Uzbekistan attracted the public workers to cotton fields in the past.
Elena Urlayeva, the human rights defender says that the main factor in attracting employees of budget organizations to the forced labor is the desire of the government of Uzbekistan to get cheap cotton.
to read. & read more.
* Fashion brand Zara once again associated with Brazilian labour rights abuses:
Zara’s business model cannot guarantee decent production
Zara does not have sufficient oversight of its supply chain. New findings of the Brazilian labour inspection, released by Repórter Brasil today, describe numerous labour rights violations in the company’s supply chain.
A research report by SOMO and Repórter Brasil also released today reaches the same conclusion. In 2011, Brazilian inspectors found cases of modern-day slavery in Zara’s supply chain.
After the scandal, Zara promised improvements by monitoring its supply chain more closely.
The new inspection findings and the research report reveal that Zara is not living up to the agreements made with the Brazilian authorities at that time. In addition, the research report exposes Zara’s dodgy legal strategy to avoid liability for Brazilian labour rights abuses.
Lack of compliance with agreement
These inspections are part of a package of measures that the Brazilian government has rolled out in order to detect and address modern-day slavery. After the inspections, Brazilian authorities reached an agreement with Zara in which the company committed itself to carry out better and more frequent supplier inspections in order to avoid infringements.
The report by SOMO and Repórter Brasil reveals that Zara is still not monitoring its production chain sufficiently, and that the company is not living up to the reporting requirements specified in the agreement.
This is confirmed by the recent report of the Brazilian labour inspection that Repórter Brasil had access to.
According to this report sixty-seven suppliers were checked, and were found to be engaged in countless labour rights violations, such as excessive overtime and occupational health and safety violations.
Irresponsible legal strategy
To make things worse, Zara is pursuing a legal strategy in Brazil that is potentially very harmful. The 2011 inspections put Zara at risk of entering the so-called ‘dirty list’ of Brazil’s labour and employment ministry – a registry of companies caught employing workers in conditions analogous to slavery.
read more. & Download the report ‘From moral responsibility to legal liability?’.
20150513 * TPPA negotiations to go ahead without US Senate support:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations involving 12 countries will still proceed even though the United States has not received the support of its Senate to continue talks to finalise the agreement.
International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister, Datuk Hamim Samuri, said each participating country in the negotiations must have their own individual issues that they wanted to safeguard.
“For certain, all countries (that are involved) have their own individual issues… that is normal. We are still at the negotiation stage,” he told reporters after launching the ‘Exporters Forum 2015’ at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre here, today.
Hamim said this when commenting on the latest report that stated the US had failed to secure the support of the Senate to continue with the negotiations in order to finalise the TPPA.
read more. & read more. & to read.
20150513 * US Senate Democrats block action on Obama’s trade agenda:
U.S. Senate Democrats dealt President Barack Obama a stinging setback on trade Tuesday, blocking efforts to begin a full-blown debate on his initiatives.
The president’s supporters said they will try again, possibly starting in the House. But they were unable to sugar-coat a solid rebuke of a major Obama priority by members of his own party, some of whom served with him in the Senate.
Only one Senate Democrat, Tom Carpe, voted for a Republican-drafted motion to start considering Obama’s request for “fast track” trade authority. Fast track would let the president present trade agreements that Congress could ratify or reject, but not amend.
Proponents needed 60 votes to thwart a Democratic filibuster, but managed only 52 in the 100-member Senate.
20150513 * Yarn Forward rule to have major effects on signatory countries such as Vietnam:
United States led trade agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which involves twelve countries, is presently under negotiation.
A key part of the proposed TPP is a rule known as “yarn forward” which would require that only fabric produced from yarn made by a TPP country would qualify for the trade agreement’s duty-free status.
The rule is intended to ensure that the trade benefits of the TPP only apply to signatory countries rather than outside players such as China.
However, the rule also likely to have major effects on signatory countries, such as Vietnam.
Upon completion, the TPP trade area would comprise a region with US$28 trillion in economic output, making up around 39 percent of the world’s total output.
If the TPP is successfully implemented, tariffs will be removed on almost US$2 trillion in goods and services exchanged between the signatory countries.
Thus, Vietnam has much to gain from the implementation of the trade agreement, including drastically reduced tariffs in some of the world’s largest markets.
Yarn forward could have serious effects for countries like Vietnam which is currently a key global garment manufacturing location.
Its factories often use Chinese-made fabrics in their products, and China is not a part of the TPP.
In fact, around eighty-five percent of Vietnamese textile and garment companies outsource from foreign partners.
So for Vietnam, to be eligible for TPP benefits such as lower tariffs in the US, it will have to develop its own local fabric industry or constrain itself to only importing fabric from another TPP country.
20150512 * Labour rights in Vietnam, Malaysia centre-stage in US trade battle:
Major trade legislation is slated for discussion in the US Senate on Tuesday, but growing opposition focused on workers’ rights around the Pacific Rim threatens to block progress.
The issue before Congress is the revival of fast-track trade authority that expired in 2007. The measure would speed trade deals through Congress and allow US trade negotiators to handle in good faith with potential trade partners.
With two major international trade deals under negotiation — one with Pacific Rim countries, a second with the European Union – fast-track backers are keen to see the bill clear Congress.
The backers include an unusual coalition of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Republican lawmakers who are his usual opponents in Congress.
Indeed, it is Mr Obama’s own Democrats in Congress, traditional allies of organised labour, who want to put on the brakes.
The latest salvo came Monday in a letter from 14 top Democratic senators insisting that Mr Obama require at least four countries — Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Mexico — to implement stronger labour standards before the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal takes effect.
20150512 * Obama’s plans for trade deals with Asia and Europe in tatters after Senate vote:
Barack Obama’s ambitions to pass sweeping new free trade agreements with Asia and Europe fell at the first hurdle on Tuesday as Senate Democrats put concerns about US manufacturing jobs ahead of arguments that the deals would boost global economic growth.
A vote to push through the bill failed as 45 senators voted against it, to 52 in favor. Obama needed 60 out of the 100 votes for it to pass.
Failure to secure so-called “fast track” negotiating authority from Congress leaves the president’s top legislative priority in tatters.
It may also prove the high-water mark in decades of steady trade liberalisation that has fuelled globalisation but is blamed for exacerbating economic inequality within many developed economies with the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Internet activists had said the deal would curb freedom of speech, while other critics charged it would enshrine currency manipulation.
* THE TRADE DEALS:
(The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
(There are more articles about TPP,
you can find them via “search” : TPP
And mostly under Viet Nam and/or Philippines, Malaysia.)
In Case You Have Missed it:
20150508 * How more business with Nike could affect workers in Vietnam:
Forcing Vietnam to improve working conditions before dropping trade barriers would have the strongest effect, labor advocates say.
President Obama is in Oregon today, pushing for one of his top priorities for the year: the passage of a massive trade deal with Asia.
Oregon is home to some of the president’s biggest political allies in this fight, like Sen. Ron Wyden, who has tried to balance his liberal leanings with advocacy for his state’s highly trade-dependent industries. It’s also home to Nike, which Obama will use as the backdrop for his major address.
Wait, what? Nike? Like child-labor-and-sweatshops Nike from the 1990s?
The symbolism has befuddled some on the left, who see the Swoosh as a symbol of everything that has gone wrong with free trade: a global race to the bottom, in which countries keep labor standards low in order to attract business from companies free to source their products wherever it’s cheapest.
Obama will likely tout Nike’s progress on cleaning up its supply chain, talk about how selling more shoes abroad will allow Nike to add more high-wage design and marketing jobs in the United States and argue that bringing Nike’s supplier countries into the Trans-Pacific Partnership will make them subject to labor rules that can then actually be enforced.
It’s that last question that is really at the heart of debate over what impact this deal could have on workers in the 11 countries that will suddenly become much more friendly destinations for U.S. capital.
Will they ever actually implement the deal’s more onerous requirements, once they have all the benefits that come with it? What happens if they don’t?
And would it be a better idea to make them shape up before letting them into the agreement, using expanded trade as a reward for good behavior?
20150508 * The Trans-Pacific Partnership will lead to a global race to the bottom:
The trade deal will lead to offshored American jobs, a widened income inequality gap and increased number of people making slave wages overseas
At a time when economic inequality around the globe continues to widen, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will only make things worse.
Unlike what President Obama claims, the agreement will only encourage a race to the bottom, in which a small percentage of people get ridiculously rich while most workers around the globe stay miserably poor. We can’t let that happen.
Today, President Obama is visiting Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to garner support for the trade deal, which would be signed by the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries.
That’s an apt place for Obama to beat the free-trade drum – Nike, like the TPP, is associated with offshoring American jobs, widening the income inequality gap, and increasing the number of people making slave wages overseas.
Since the passage of NAFTA in 1993, we’ve seen the loss of nearly five million US manufacturing jobs, the closure of more than 57,000 factories, and stagnant wages.
This deal won’t be any different.
In November, Zachary Senn, a college student reporter at the Modesto Bee, spent three weeks in Indonesia living with and interviewing workers who make goods for Nike, Adidas, Puma and Converse.
When you hear Obama talking about those “high-quality jobs,” think of RM, a 32-year-old mother who told Senn that she works 55 hours, six days a week and makes just $184 a month after 12 years at the PT Nikomas factory, a Nike subcontractor that employs 25,000 people.
That’s 83 cents an hour or $2,208 a year.
20150508 * Obama to visit Nike HQ to rally Democratic support for free trade:
Sneaker giant famous for using low-cost Asian labour says new TPP agreement will create 10,000 new US jobs – but unions don’t agree
Barack Obama will seek to rally Democratic support for free trade on Friday with a visit to Nike headquarters designed to allay fears of further offshoring of US jobs.
Amid fierce opposition from the president’s own party in Congress, White House officials are aiming to flip perceptions by staging the speech at a shoe giant notorious for its use of low-cost Asian labour but which claims the proposed transpacific partnership (TPP) trade agreement will allow it to create 10,000 new US jobs.
In the run-up to the president’s visit, a Nike company statement argued that reduced tariffs would allow it to better integrate new US factories into its global supply chain and therefore speed up innovation and customisation for domestic consumers.
“We believe agreements that encourage free and fair trade allow Nike to do what we do best: innovate, expand our businesses and drive economic growth,” said the chief executive, Mark Parker.
20150508 * Obama at Nike headquarters: why push trade deal at an outsourcing giant?:
Opponents of Trans-Pacific Partnership baffled over choice of venue as Bernie Sanders condemns company’s ‘legacy of offshoring American jobs’
With the Nike logo in the background on Friday, President Obama sought to drum up support for a controversial trade agreement that is facing mounting opposition from Democrats and US labor unions.
Speaking at a rally at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, the president attempted to address some of the criticisms against the 12-country Trans-Pacific trade deal he is currently trying to push through Congress.
Obama tried to turn the focus away from potential job losses in the US to the potential to grow US exports.
The president warned that the US must lead in trade negotiations.
“If we don’t write the rules for trade around the world, guess what? China will,” Obama said.
“And they’ll write those rules in a way that gives Chinese workers and Chinese businesses the upper hand.”
But apart from providing an apposite corporate slogan for the measure’s passage – “Just do it” – choosing Nike as a location didn’t quite reinforce his message.
To many, Nike is synonymous with outsourcing. About 26,000 people work for Nike in the US, with more than 8,500 of them in Oregon.
That’s just a fraction of its workforce compared to the more than 1 million contract workers it employs, of which more than 90% are in Asia.
The company has previously come under fire for the treatment of its contract workers in places like Bangladesh and Vietnam.
From 2006 to 2014, the Worker Rights Consortium published reports on 16 of Nike’s suppliers alleging violations of overtime and worker abuse.
Nike had learned lessons from its past mistakes, Mark Parker, president and CEO of Nike, told the Wall Street Journal last year.
20150509 * Nike outlines support for TPP, praises Obama:
Sports footwear and apparel maker Nike has expressed support for the US Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Friday when President Barack Obama visited the company’s headquarters at Beaverton Oregon.
The company announced its intention to accelerate investment in advanced footwear manufacturing in the US, if TPA is passed and a TPP agreement is finalised, according to a statement issued by the company.
“We commend President Obama for his strong leadership to advance these important trade initiatives,” said Mark Parker, president and CEO, Nike, Inc. “Our employees and our business depend on free trade and the ability to reach athletes and consumers around the world.”
Footwear tariff relief would allow Nike to accelerate development of new advanced manufacturing methods and a domestic supply chain to support US-based manufacturing.
This advanced manufacturing model is expected to lead to the creation of up to 10,000 manufacturing and engineering jobs in addition to thousands of construction jobs and up to 40,000 indirect supply chain and service jobs in the US over the next decade.
20150508 * Nike: Don’t pressure employees to lobby on your behalf:
Nike is pushing its own employees to lobby the U.S. Congress to pass a massive new trade deal with countries that have poor working conditions.
Workers shouldn’t be pressured by their employer to support specific political views of a corporation. We’re calling on Nike to stop pressuring its employees to lobby on behalf of the company.
Why is this important?
President Obama is scheduled to appear at the Nike company headquarters in Oregon on May 8, 2015 to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a multinational agreement focused on trade between the U.S. and 11 other countries.
Meanwhile, Nike’s management is putting pressure on its own employees to promote the agreement as well. In a memo sent to some employees this March, Nike’s General Counsel said: “We need to hear your voice as a Nike employee on this issue” and pushed employees to contact their members of Congress to approve the deal.
Among other concerns, many are worried that an easing of trade restrictions without strong measures to ensure workers’ rights are protected could exacerbate a race to the bottom where companies have even more incentive to source from factories with the worst wages and conditions.
* Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP):
(The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.
Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth, while critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit.
The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
After a proposed draft was leaked in March 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a limited set of clauses and in January 2015 published parts of an overview.
An agreement is not expected to be finalized before 2016.
The proposed agreement has attracted criticism from a wide variety of NGOs and activists, particularly in Europe.
In December 2013, a coalition of over 200 environmentalists, labor unions and consumer advocacy organizations on both sides of the Atlantic sent a letter to the USTR and European Commission demanding the investor-state dispute settlement be dropped from the trade talks, claiming that ISDS was “a one-way street by which corporations can challenge government policies, but neither governments nor individuals are granted any comparable rights to hold corporations accountable”.
Some point out the “potential for abuse” that may be inherent in the trade agreement due to its clauses relating to investor protection.
* What is the problem?:
The EU soon intends to sign two far-reaching trade agreements: one with Canada (CETA = Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and one with the USA (TTIP = Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).
The official line is that this will create jobs and increase economic growth. However, the beneficiaries of these agreements are not in fact citizens, but big corporations:
- Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS): Foreign investors (i.e. Canadian and US companies) receive the right to sue for damages if they believe that they have suffered losses because of laws or measures of the EU or of individual EU member states.
This can also affect laws which were enacted in the interest of the common good, such as environmental and consumer protection.
- Groups of companies are intended to be included even during the elaboration of new regulations and laws if their trade interests could be affected.
The name for this is: “regulatory cooperation”.
It means that representatives of big business are invited to participate in expert groups to influence new draft laws, even before these are discussed in the elected parliaments. This undermines democracy!
- Big business had, and still has, excessive influence on the secret negotiations relating to CETA and TTIP.
Alone in the preparatory phase for TTIP, 590 meetings took place between the EU Commission and lobby representatives, according to official statements. 92% of these meetings were with representatives of companies, while only in a few cases there were discussions with consumer and trade union representatives.
* editors note:
Western countries-governments talk a lot about human rights….
Western companies, investors – hedgefunds, banks, pensionfunds- and brands continue violating human rights, exploit and oppress people,
ignore the environment.
These companies make a lot of profit…
Western countries – governments therefore get/earn a lot of money.
And these (western) companies (brands, investors, banks) are they held responsible, accountable, prosecuted and punished by western governments,
And these governments are democratically elected by consumers, they say…
How important are human rights for consumers and governments….