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News Clips 23 October, 2013

[ Textile, clothing exports rise ]
[ Khurram Dastagir to lobby for GSP plus status for Pakistan ]
[ U.S.-led group's Bangladesh garment factory reviews halfway done ]

Textile, clothing exports rise   [ top ]

DAWN, Mubarak Zeb Khan, October 23, 2013
ISLAMABAD, Oct 22: Pakistan’s export of textile and clothing products witnessed a growth of 9.99 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year from a year ago.

Export proceeds from these sectors rebounded following substantial increase in export of raw cotton and value-added products, showed data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics here on Tuesday.Export of textile and clothing surged to $3.576bn in July-Sept 2013 from $3.251bn during the corresponding months of last year.

The products, which witnessed a negative growth in July-Sept 2013 over the same months last year, are cotton carded, yarn other than cotton yarn, towels and art silk.

However, growth in exports in the first three months was mainly driven by bedwear and readymade garments, which are valued-added products.

Exports witnessed a growth because of increase in export to the European markets owing to preferential market access on selected products.

The European Union’s preferential package on import of 75 items was in operation since December 2012.

Depreciation of Pakistani currency is also one of the pushing factors in export proceeds during the first quarter of the current fiscal year from a year ago.

In terms of rupees, exports proceeds witnessed a growth of 19.82pc in July-September 2013 this year from a year ago.

A sector-wise analysis showed that export of low value-added products, such as cotton yarn, was up by 8.55pc, cotton cloth 4.01pc, made-up articles 9.95pc, and other textile material 10.84pc in first three months of the current fiscal year over same months last year.

Export of bedwear increased by 25.81pc, knitwear 0.03pc and readymade garments 13.46pc in July-Sept 2013 this year over the same month last year.

Statistics showed that export of raw cotton witnessed a robust growth of 164.24pc in the first three months of the current fiscal year over last year.

Industry sources said that consistent supply of gas during the period under review to textile sector produced the desired results, especially in the Punjab.

The growth in yarn and fabric exports was mainly because of improved energy supply.

Total export proceeds witnessed a growth of 9.23pc to $6.712bn in July-Sept 2013 from $6.144bn over the corresponding period of last year.

Khurram Dastagir to lobby for GSP plus status for Pakistan   [ top ]

BUSINESS RECORDER, Tuesday, 22 October 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Minister of State for Commerce and Textile Industry, Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan is currently undertaking a visit of four European countries to lobby for Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status for Pakistan.

The Minister, accompanied by the Secretary, Commerce Division, will hold meetings with European Parliament members, leading business groups and influential members of Pakistani diaspora in Brussels, Paris, Madrid and Rome, says a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce here Tuesday.

During his interaction with key figures, the Minister will seek support from European Union (EU) members for the Pakistan's application for GSP+.

The GSP+ scheme of EU provides zero duty treatment to items of export interest of the beneficiary country.

By qualifying for GSP+, Pakistan's exports to EU will increase significantly.

Pakistan is quite hopeful to gain market access in EU under this scheme which would improve its competitiveness viz-a viz other beneficiary countries.

After endorsement of Pakistan's application by the EU Commission, the process has now entered the next phase where Pakistan's application would be considered by the European Parliament.

The high level delegation led by the Minister of State for Commerce and Textile Industry would be instrumental in lobbying to secure Pakistan's commercial interests in their meetings with EU's political leadership.

Pakistan's Missions in these countries are being actively involved in the planning and coordination of the meetings of the visiting delegation with European parliamentarians and businessmen.

U.S.-led group's Bangladesh garment factory reviews halfway done   [ top ]

REUTERS, Jessica Wohl, Oct 22, 2013
(Reuters) - More than half of the Bangladesh garment factories that do work for a group of North American retailers and apparel makers have already been inspected for fire and building safety, the group said on Tuesday.

Last week, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety released a list of more than 620 factories its 23 current members do business with.

Bangladesh garment factory working conditions have been under close scrutiny since the April collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex killed more than 1,100 garment workers and a November 2012 fire at the Tazreen factory killed 112 workers.

Members of the Alliance, including industry heavyweights such as Gap Inc, VF Corp and Wal-Mart Stores Inc, have agreed to inspect all of the Bangladesh factories from which they source goods within a year. So far, more than 50 percent of those factories have been inspected. It was not immediately clear how many factories may or may not need to make safety improvements based on those inspections.

The Alliance said it plans to have experts review and assess those inspections. If any inspection does not meet its requirements, another inspection will have to be completed.

About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh's clothing industry, making it the world's second-largest clothing exporter behind China. Some of the mostly female workforce earn as little as $38 a month, and workers are pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. About 60 percent of garment exports go to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.

Roughly 50 percent of the factories that do business with members of the Alliance also make garments for members of the separate European-led Accord and Fire and Building Safety.

The Accord group, which had 100 companies on board as of this month, is doing its own work to ensure the safety of garment workers in Bangladesh. Accord members include U.S. companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co and American Eagle Outfitters Inc.

The Alliance also said that it has appointed two technical experts to help implement its fire and building safety standards and inspection process, adhering to a set of fire and building safety standards that it says align with the Bangladesh National Building Code. The people assigned to that task are Dr. Ishtaique Ahmed, a professor of civil engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering; and Technology and Tracey Bellamy, chief engineering officer for Telgian Corp, a fire protection and safety services firm, the Alliance said.