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MARKET WATCH 11 JUNE, 2018

NATIONAL

INTERNATIONAL

Centre’s panel to visit city on June 11 to take stock of textile sector

SURAT: The central government will be deputing two members from the duty drawback committee to take stock of the situation of textile manufacturers for appropriate revision of the existing duty drawback rates on June 11. 
The decision to depute the duty drawback committee to the city was taken following representation by Synthetic and Rayon Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC) chairman Narain Agarwal during his meeting with Union minister for textiles Smriti Irani in New Delhi on May 27.
Agarwal told TOI, “At present, the remission of state levies (RoSL) under the duty drawback scheme was allowed for garment and made-up sectors. After the representation, the minister has given approval for inclusion of yarns and fabrics in the ROSL scheme. This will provide substantial relief to the man-made fibre segment. During the meeting, she was also positive on upward revision in duty drawback rates along with ROSL. These initiatives are certainly going to give a big push to man-made fibre segment in the country.” 
He said the minister positively considered review of accumulation of input tax credit (ITC) at various stages of textiles, including weaving, processing, embroidery and other value-added segments for enabling full refund. The refund of ITC will help make textile exports from the country more competitive.
About the central government scheme “Samarth” for capacity building in the textile sector, Agarwal said policy guidelines under the scheme were issued on April 23. The scheme is aimed at skill training for youths for gainful and sustainable employment in the textile sector. The ministry of textiles has now invited request for proposals (RPF) for empanelment of implementing agencies for undertaking the training programme.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/centres-panel-to-visit-city-on-june-11-to-take-stock-of-textile-sector/articleshow/64514008.cms

 Source: Times of India

Commerce Ministry working on mechanism to refund taxes paid by exporters under GST

The Commerce Ministry is trying to find a mechanism to refund taxes, including embedded ones, that are still being paid by exporters after the implementation of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime.

“Such payments to exporters would not only make exports more competitive but would also be allowed under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime where questions are being raised on India’s export subsidies,” a government official told BusinessLine.

“The taxes that are not getting refunded under GST and which exporters are continuing to pay include electricity duty, VAT on petroleum goods, mandi tax, stamp duty and many embedded taxes. If a mechanism is found to refund these taxes, it could amount to substantial relief,” the official said.

According to the Apparel Export Promotion Council, embedded taxes for the garment sector, which include the levies on cotton, electricity, and input tax credit restrictions for man-made fibres which is purchased from unregistered dealers, put an additional burden of about 4-5 per cent on the industry.

An informal committee set up by the Commerce Ministry to find alternative ways to compensate exporters once the WTO-incompatible export incentive schemes are withdrawn is closely examining how exporters could be compensated for the non-refunded taxes. The committee, headed by the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade and comprising representatives from the industry and think-tanks, is also studying experiences of other countries.

Review of taxes

Interestingly, the latest Economic Survey suggested that the GST Council should conduct a comprehensive review of embedded taxes arising from products left outside the GST (petroleum and electricity) and those that arise from the GST itself. The latter, for example, could include input tax credits that get blocked because of “tax inversion,” whereby taxes further back in the chain are greater than those up the chain. “This review should lead to an expeditious elimination of these embedded export taxes, which could provide an important boost to India’s manufacturing exports,” the Survey said.

Many exporters are suffering from a credit crunch in the GST regime as the mechanism for refund of taxes is not yet robust. Although the Finance Ministry is trying to clear the back-log by organising fortnightly clearance camps, a substantial amount is still pending.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

AAR ruling: GST will apply to goods carried by foreign-bound ships

Andhra Pradesh's Authority of Advance Ruling (AAR) has said the goods and services tax (GST) will be levied on the goods supplied from Customs warehouse to merchant vessels on a foreign run, triggering sharp views from experts.

The Bench said the petitioner, Fairmacs Ship Stores, holder of a special warehouse licence, was liable to pay GST on outward supply made to these vessels.

The AAR treated these as inter-state supply. However, it also allowed the petitioner to collect GST from the clients.

Experts argue GST is a consumption-based tax and these supplies are consumed outside India. Abhishek Rastogi, partner at Khaitan & Co, says provisions on inter-state supply have been a matter of dispute.

Source: The Business Standard

Tamil Nadu textile exports fall by Rs 16,000 crore in 2017-18

CHENNAI: Export of knitwear and readymade garments from Tamil Nadu fell by 5.6 per cent in 2017-18 owing to various reasons, including demonetisation, GST and global competition. The  garment exports from Tirupur reduced by `16,000 crore last year, O S Manian, Handlooms and Textiles Minister, told the Assembly on Friday. Replying to a question on demands for grants for Handloom and Textiles department, he said textile exports dipped by 10 per cent across India and 5.6 percent in Tamil Nadu.

“About 6500 knitwear and readymade garment companies in Tirupur export to the tune of `50,000 crore a year and provides employment to six lakh workers. However, owing to GST, demonetisation and global competition, textile exports turnover fell to `34,000 crore last year,” he said. Because of the State’s efforts GST on garments was reduced to five per cent.

He pointed out that higher taxation and reduction in other monetary incentives had put the textile industry in deep crisis. The Centre had reduced the rebate on State Levies (incentive provided for exporters on the value of exported goods) from 3.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent. Manian said the Centre is yet to settle the `500 crore dues to Tirupur garment companies.

Noting that about 11.4 per cent of tax imposed in India for exports, the Minister said (other major textile exporters) Bangaladesh and Sri Lanka did not levy customs duty. “The duty drawback rate, had also been reduced from 7.5 to 2.5 per cent,” he explained. Manian said that on May 31, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami had written to the PM to settle `500cr dues towards rebate on State levies and increase duty drawback rate to five per cent.

Meanwhile, the Southern India Mills Association(SIMA) president P Nataraj said, “Refund of ROSL was kept pending from April 2017. The Centre has hastened the process. It has been cleared until Dec 2017.”

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2018/jun/09/tamil-nadu-textile-exports-fall-by-rs-16000-crore-in-2017-18-1825697.html

Source: News Express

Income Tax department clears Rs 7,000 crore GST refunds of exporters

NEW DELHI: Over Rs 7,000 crore or half of the pending GST refunds of exporters has been cleared in the first nine days of the ongoing special refund fortnight.
"More than Rs 7,000 crore of IGST/ ITC refunds sanctioned till now during the ongoing Special Refund Fortnight," the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said in a tweet late last night.
It asked exporters and traders to visit their jurisdictional GST office or Customs House/Port and settle pending claims during the Special Refund Fortnight from May 31 to June 14, 2018.
About Rs 14,000 crore of refunds of exporters were stuck due to various mismatches and CBIC has organised the special fortnight to fast track clearances.
The CBIC has also allowed clearance of GST refunds based on PAN of exporters if such refunds are held up due to mismatch in GSTIN mentioned in shipping bill and return forms.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/income-tax-department-clears-rs-7000-crore-gst-refunds-of-exporters/articleshow/64519448.cms

Source: Times of India

CAIT threatens nationwide agitation over Walmart-Flipkart deal

Retail trader body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has threatened nationwide agitation if the government clears USD 16 billion Walmart-Flipkart deal.

"Since last five years we are knocking the doors of the government for bringing reforms in e-commerce but all has gone to deaf ears which encouraged Walmart to buy Flipkart and enter into retail trade indirectly," CAIT said in a statement.

The deal will increase malpractices manifold in e-commerce spectrum, it said.

The basic fundamentals of the deal are based on circumvention of the law with an underlying object to exploit, manipulate and control the retail sector including e-commerce, it added.

Last month, the US retailer Walmart Inc announced acquisition of 77 per cent stake in Flipkart in its biggest takeover till date. The deal values the 11-year old Indian e-commerce firm at USD 20.8 billion.

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/cait-threatens-nationwide-agitation-over-walmart-flipkart-deal-2586947.html

Source: Money Control

Tiruppur shows how it’s done: on controlling industrial pollution

On a sunny June morning, two men are spotted fishing close to the Orathupalayam dam in Erode district.

A rather ordinary act in itself, it nevertheless points to a revival of the ecosystem in and around the dam.

Orathupalayam dam, meant to serve as a reservoir for the waters of the Noyyal river, had turned into a cesspool of effluents from textile dyeing units in upstream Tiruppur district within years of its commissioning in 1992.

The reservoir came to characterise the problem of industrial pollution, an issue highlighted once again in the anti-Sterlite agitation that rocked the State recently.

The revival of the reservoir and water bodies in its vicinity is thanks to a sustained campaign by farmers and activists, involving prolonged legal battles.

Today, the adverse impact of industrial pollution on the Orathupalayam dam, about 30 km downstream from Tiruppur, appears to have been contained substantially.

A majority of the 754 textile dyeing units, which had to be closed down for one-and-a-half years following the Madras High Court order in January 2011, have since migrated to a system of zero liquid discharge (ZLD), under which over 90% of the treated waste gets recycled.

According to a document of the State Environment Department, 458 units attached to 18 common effluent treatment plants (CETP) and 95 units with individual ETPs have been permitted to operate, after establishing ZLD plants.

“In the last five-six years, the quality of water in and around the dam has improved. Fish are indeed available now,” says V. Ramasamy Gounder, a resident of Kodumanal village, three km from the dam. He has served as a farmers’ representative on the panel on Orathupalayam dam, constituted by the State government about 15 years ago.

However, he hastens to add that the present situation, despite being an improvement, is far from ideal. He points out that the clean-up has happened because the dam’s spillway shutters and river sluices are kept open permanently, preventing any storage of water. The decision not to store water will remain in force till the quality of water becomes fit for agriculture.

Notwithstanding the “resolution” of the Orathupalayam row, the problem of Noyyal pollution remains as the river continues to be used as a “dumping yard” for domestic sewage and industrial effluents.

About eight months ago, State Environment Minister K.C. Karuppannan’s observations that sought to attribute the reason for the huge amount of foam that formed in the river to the use of soap by the residents of Coimbatore attracted public derision. Yet, what cannot be glossed over is that a large volume of untreated domestic sewage is being discharged into the waterway.

After the Madras High Court came down heavily on Tiruppur units in January 2011, smaller dyeing units have sprung up on farms and private premises in Coimbatore district, says R. Raveendran, secretary of the Residents’ Awareness Association of Coimbatore. His complaint is that these units are dumping their effluents into the Noyyal or defunct borewells.

“Many of these units look innocuous and nobody even knows they exist. They dig borewells and release effluents directly into them, which is very frightening,” says Vanitha Mohan, managing trustee of Siruthuli, a non-government organisation working in the areas of afforestation, water and waste management. She adds that some of the units are located in heavily populated areas such as Selvapuram and Telungupalayam where people are dependent on groundwater.

Both Mr. Raveendran and Ms. Mohan claim that there has been no action from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) against such units. A Coimbatore-based senior official of the Board countered by saying that he has not been apprised of this problem. “We will look into it,” he adds, when pressed.

Even representatives of industry admit to the possibility of some units violating the law. But their refrain is that for the “mistakes of a few,” the entire industry should not be made to suffer.

Palar woes

Just as Orathupalayam has become the face of industrial pollution in the western districts, it is the Palar river in the north which exemplifies the flip side of industrialisation.

“The pollution of the Palar, which is the lifeline of northern Tamil Nadu, began in the early 1970s when leather industries shifted to chrome tanning from eco-friendly vegetable tanning. Untreated effluents were let into the river from Vaniyambadi to Ambur and Vellore. The pollution continued for the next two to three decades,” says Jamuna Thyagarajan, president of the Vellore Palar Protection Association.

Consequently, groundwater in Vellore district, a hub for leather industries, got highly polluted, rendering both the soil and water unusable for agriculture. This evoked protests from people and farmers. On a petition filed by the Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum, the Supreme Court, in August 1996, delivered a landmark judgement, invoking the principle of “polluter pays.”

The establishment of the Loss of Ecology Authority and the payment of compensation to affected people followed but there appears to be no end to the problem of pollution.

A study conducted by the Anna University about three years ago only confirms how groundwater in most places in Ambur remains unsuitable for drinking, the reason being “high concentration of major ions.”

Carried out by L. Elango and G. Kanagaraj of the university’s Department of Geology between July 2015 (prior to the onset of the northeast monsoon) and January 2016 (post-monsoon) on hydrogeochemical processes and the impact of tanning industries, the study was based on an analysis of 30 groundwater samples taken from open and shallow wells.

The saline water mixing index indicated salinity in most of the groundwater samples due to tannery effluents. Besides, the level of chromium in groundwater exceeded the norms of the Bureau of Indian Standards (0.05 mg/litre) in over 50% of the observed wells.

The researchers suggested that the effluent treatment plants be equipped to remove the salinity of waste water through reverse osmosis and rainfall recharge structures be installed to improve groundwater recharge.

But the leather industry is of the view that the ZLD system in place has made a difference. “We were asked to achieve ZLD in 2008 and complete the works by 2011. Today, there is no place where effluents are discharged or stagnate. The quality of groundwater has improved in the last four to five years as TDS levels have reduced,” asserts Iqbal Ahmed, managing director of VANITEC.

Ranipet, about 70 km east of Ambur, too has a litany of pollution woes. Here, the pollutant is chromium-bearing solid waste. Residents have been waging a battle against groundwater pollution for more than two decades. Nearly 2.27 lakh tonnes of solid waste was left behind after the closure of Tamil Nadu Chromates and Chemicals Limited in 1995. The result: widespread contamination of groundwater, hitting farming operations.

L.C. Mani, Vellore district president of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, says several water bodies such as Kodathappu Eri, Karai Eri, Vanabadi Eri, Puliyanthangal Eri and Thandalam Eri are polluted. Around 800 acres of cultivable land has been affected.

As plans to remove the chromium waste from the site are yet to take off, groundwater pollution remains Ranipet’s bane.

Thoothukudi’s travails

In the southern part of the State, Thoothukudi, which made headlines in recent weeks, has been home to many industrial units, concentrated about 8 km west of the “pearl city.”

In a study done in January 2017, contamination patches were observed in the SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) area, Meelavittan, Therku Verapandiyapuram, Pandarampatti, Swaminatham, Puthur Pandiyapuram, Sankaraperi and Kuttudankadu (Puddukodai area), courtesy industrial waste leaching and percolating into the aquifer.

Based upon 60 groundwater samples to identify geochemical sources and contamination in Thoothukudi, the study revealed, among other things, traces of lead in various foods, notably fish.

“Lead is harmful even in small amounts,” says Selvam, assistant professor in geology, V.O. Chidambaram College, Thoothukudi.

The Tamirabharani river, an important source of drinking water for Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts, too has not been spared by industrial pollution.

Some industrial units, including a few paper mills in Tirunelveli, have been accused of releasing their untreated waste into the river.

Remediation is possible

Be it the west or the north, the process of industrialisation has caused environmental degradation. But, the Tiruppur example, with all its shortcomings, does show that a similar problem anywhere in the State can be tackled, if not overcome.

Mr. Gounder of Erode is hopeful of resuming farming operations if the authorities, industry and civil society pay attention to the problem of industrial pollution and find lasting solutions. Only then would there be sustainable development.

“It is doable,” the Kodumanal farmer says optimistically.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tiruppur-shows-how-its-done/article24124366.ece

Source: The Hindu

 

Indian workers have a productivity problem

The French take their leisure time seriously. This, after all, is the country that ushered in 2017 with a law barring work email after hours. Little wonder Parisians punch into work for an average of just a little over 1,600 hours annually. Indians are an altogether more industrious lot, according to Swiss bank UBS’ Price And Earnings Report 2018. Mumbaikars clock in at 3,315 hours a year—the most among the 77 cities around the world surveyed—while New Delhi comes in fourth. The problem: French labour productivity is among the highest in the world. Indian labour productivity is emphatically not.

Economies are somewhat like Tolstoy’s unhappy families: Each is affected by unique factors. That said, it is possible to draw some broad conclusions about the links between labour productivity and economic growth. Citi GPS’ Securing India’s Growth Over the Next Decade report has analysed data from 1950 onwards for 26 economies, developed and developing. It has found that in 75% of the cases, gross domestic product growth exceeded 8% when labour productivity growth topped 6%. This was as true of post-war Japan as it was of Deng Xiaoping’s China.

India’s peak years have come much later. Between 1950 and 1980, labour productivity growth averaged a meagre 1.7%. The two decades to the turn of the millennium saw that average more than double to 3.8%. This was the period when India’s manufacturing and services sectors took off, leaching labour from the lower productivity agricultural sector. Labour productivity growth peaked at 10.2% in 2010 and has been on the decline since, making India part of the global productivity slowdown enigma. In 2016, it stood at 4.75%. This does not bode well for achieving the growth targets that are needed to raise living standards.

A number of factors are relevant here. First, low labour productivity implies misallocation of labour. The shift away from agriculture should mean that this isn’t a problem in India. But efficient allocation doesn’t work quite so neatly. Economists Margaret S. McMillan and Dani Rodrik pointed out in a 2011 paper, Globalization, Structural Change And Productivity Growth, that as firms increase in efficiency, they have reduced need for labour. Workers are then compelled to move to more low productivity employment. After the Jawaharlal Nehru years, growth in India until 1980 was labour intensive; it has been capital intensive since. And as Tadit Kundu has pointed out in Mint(goo.gl/M1ePi3), capital-intensive sectors such as metal products and chemicals have been responsible for the bulk of productivity growth while labour-intensive sectors such as leather and textiles have lagged behind. This adds to the inequality problem. It also places India at risk of the phenomenon McMillan and Rodrik identified.

This feeds into the second problem: India’s economy consists largely of small firms, a large segment of them in the unorganized sector. This creates several hurdles to productivity and economic growth. Enterprises are unable to invest in the machinery needed to boost labour productivity due to a lack of access to capital. They are also unable to invest in worker skilling. The low productivity and output consequently result in poor wages.

This problem of scale points to the third problem: innovation. It is a central point of the global productivity slowdown debate. Is the slowdown at least partly due to innovation today not being as transformative as it was during the previous century, as Robert Gordon holds? Or is it because, as Erik Brynjolfsson has argued, innovation is every bit as transformative now but still in its infancy?

Evidence from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member states points to innovation and its productivity-boosting effects being as robust as ever—but limited to “frontier firms”. These companies are typically larger and younger. Technological diffusion to the rest of the economy tends to be uneven and slow. The preponderance of small enterprises in the Indian economic landscape thus works against the introduction, use and spread of labour productivity-boosting innovation.

The solutions to these problems—and myriad linked issues—are neither easy nor quick. The goods and services tax is an important step toward formalization of the economy, but the resultant productivity boosts will take years to gestate. Meanwhile, labour law reforms are still pending. In their absence, formal enterprises lean on contractual workers. This robs them of efficiency gains and the economy of the benefits of a productivity boost. Little wonder India’s automobile industry—one of the flag-bearers of the post-1980 manufacturing surge—still suffers from a substantial productivity gap that reverberates down the supply chain to smaller enterprises. And while the government’s skilling efforts at least acknowledge a serious labour capital problem, their failure thus far points to the importance of organic, private sector efforts that are difficult to come by in an economy as structurally lopsided as India’s.

When the French government moved to make changes to France’s 35-hour work week in 2016, there were widespread protests and marches. The stakes—and consequences—for India are considerably higher. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has warned of the financial and social instability that slow productivity growth could cause. Indians might work more than their global peers—but the government must focus on enabling them to work better.

https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/3qjewAnLB1AxPOEhyhAEiN/Indian-workers-have-a-productivity-problem.html

Source: The Mint 

Investment and demand to grow in FY’19: CII survey

With investments and demand set to grow in India capacity utilisation and employment will increase in FY-2019, say industry leaders.

“The economy is in a sweet spot right now as the adjustment process regarding major reforms of the past few years is largely stabilised and industry is ready for a fresh phase of investment while capacity utilisation builds up,” said Rakesh Bharti Mittal, President, Confederation of Indian Industry.

A CEOs opinion poll conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry consisting of over 80 senior corporate leaders showed that 82 percent of the CEOs expect GDP growth to be higher than 7 per cent for the fiscal 2018-19 and 10 per cent of them expecting growth to be above 7.5 per cent.

Over 80 per cent of respondents expect capacity utilisation to increase in the fiscal year from the current 74 per cent. The leaders polled expect further increase in consumption demand and rise in private investments during the coming year. There is an overall belief all these will give fillip to employment generation.

On the international trade front, while CEOs expect exports to increase, imports are expected to increase as well thus leading to increase in trade deficit. “Exports registered 10 per cent growth over 2017-18 as the global economy is recovering and we expect the momentum to pick over the current year. Going forward, we must leverage stronger overseas demand and shifting global value chains through trade facilitation and competitive products,” Mittal said in the statement.

However rising raw material and fuel costs will be a key challenge. The industry leaders felt that credit and capital availability is of concern especially for the MSME sector. Bank loans could remain ‘sluggish’ for the next two-three years, and recapitalisation of public sector banks is an imperative going forward, the survey suggested.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/investment-and-demand-to-grow-in-fy19-cii-survey/article24129060.ece

Source: The Hindu

Checks and Balances

Kaithun, a village about 15 km away from Kota, Rajasthan, is home to nearly 500 weavers. Mostly women from the Ansari Muslim community, they have been weaving in the tradition of handwoven Kota Doria for generations. As one walks through the turban-like winding streets, where houses sit cheek-by-jowl providing solace from the 48 degree desert heat, it’s not unusual to see pit looms and charkhas in almost every home. It’s about 7am and women are already out for sizing (starching with rice paste and wild onion juice) and warping the yarn. Gossamer silk threads that are almost invisible and pure cotton yarns are stretched out on bamboo stands, allowing them to gain strength before they are dyed and put on the loom.

Kota Doria (doria meaning thread) saris were patronised by Maharaja Bhim Singh, who summoned the weavers from the Deccan region to Kota, in the early 18th century. Its unique warp and weft combines threads in a delicate check pattern, called khat, with cotton yarn that gives it stiffness while the silk lends the fabric its lightness. However, with challenges of duplication from the power loom, and its lack of visibility on textile platforms, Kota Doria has seen a decline over the years.

Recently, Delhi-based NGO All India Artisans and Craftworkers’ Welfare Association (AIACA), which has been working to reinvent and reposition crafts for newer markets, began the ‘Going Green Project’, in partnership with Traidcraft Exchange, UK, supported by the European Union. On their list of clusters in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, was Kota. The others include Varanasi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Udaipur and Churu. On June 11, the organisation hosts a national conference on ‘Future of Craft’ at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi, to showcase its work among craft clusters.

“When we first went to Kota in 2014, the weavers were working individually, making saris and dupattas based on briefs given by vendors, traders, or middlemen. The major markets for such products were Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. These have a peculiar taste in designs in terms of colours and motifs that do not do justice to the delicate and sophisticated character of this weave. The artisans were making very large motifs in very loud contrasting colours, and had no idea about the tastes of high-end consumers,” says Madhura Dutta, Executive Director, AIACA.

They began work with Kota Women Weavers Organization (KWWO), a business collective, made of nearly 38 self-help groups. “We facilitated better governance practices, and linked the weavers to various government schemes. We tried variations in khat sizes, traditional geometric motifs inspired from Muslim architecture, and shifted colour schemes to sober pastels. We introduced awareness on safe dyes and trained local artisans and dyers as well,” says Dutta.

Mohammed Rafiq, one of the five dyers in Kaithun affirms, “We were using chemical dyes and had little knowledge of azo-free dyes. Today we know that each yarn has a different dye and what works best in which temperature,” says the 47-year-old, as he shows us a catalogue of more than 1400 swatches of dyed silk threads.

We meet 35-year-old Zaib-u-nissa, who has been working on a yardage, commissioned by AIACA. “I used to work in the fields before, until I saw that the other women were doing different weaves from what we have seen regularly in Kaithun. I was initially very scared to even work on the loom, however, after I finished a sari, I have gained confidence,” she says. Even as orange threads on her loom come together in plain and transparent weaves, the new pattern that emerges is strikingly different from the usual checks of Kota Doria. “Many of them were initially opposed to the idea of changing the weave pattern or motifs,” says Avanish Kumar, Textile Specialist at AIACA. “But once they realised that the new designs and weaves were reaching the right markets, their trust in us grew.”

For 60-year-old Aseema Banu, Haj will soon be a reality. “I’ve been weaving since I was knee-high. I haven’t been to a school, but for me weaving is child’s play. I’ve sold my weaves at different exhibitions in the country, and worked with everything from fresh yarn to waste threads. One is never too old to learn new things, and these new designs are bringing in more customers,” she says.

While Kumar is aware of the material’s structural limitations and its diaphanous feel, he believes there is ample scope in expanding the Kota Doria range. However, the local market in Kota’s Rampur Bazaar seldom stock handloom Kota saris. “It’s all about the price,” says Shahnaz Ansari, one of the local coordinators for AIACA. “A handwoven Kota Doria begins at Rs 3000, while in the market you’ll find a power loom Kota sari sold for Rs 300. We also use authentic zari in our motifs. Few clients know that the Kota Doria sari has a Global Indication (GI) tag, which is woven into the sari pallu.”

Even as the Ansari community of weavers strengthen one another through self-help groups, AIACA is facilitating their reach into stores such as Good Earth, and on platforms such as the Lakme Fashion Week. “The KWWO is already Craftmark certified. We envision that these weavers will soon become entrepreneurs,” says Dutta.

http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/checks-and-balances-kota-ansari-muslims-handweavers-5212112/

Source: Indian Express

TALENT HUNT: Govt opens top positions to all citizens

The Union Government of India has, for the first time, invited people who are not part of the Indian Administrative Service or IAS to join as top bureaucrats in the central government.

The Department of Personnel and Training has invited anyone with 15 years of expertise in areas such as finance, energy and commerce to join it at the level of ‘joint secretary’, throwing open the third most powerful position in Indian bureaucracy to all citizens.

The government’s invitation to the public specifies that individuals working at “comparable levels” in companies, autonomous bodies, statutory organisations, universities, recognized research institutes, consulting organizations etc are eligible to apply as long as they have completed 40 years of age and have 15 years of experience, presumably in the area for which he or she is applying for.

Salary will start at Rs 1.44 lakh. Along with various perks, the person could look forward to getting a total compensation of a 2-4 lakhs per month.

For now, posts have been opened up in ten departments — revenue (tax), financial services, economic affairs, agriculture and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highways, shipping, forest and climate change, renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce.

WHO ARE JOINT SECRETARIES?

The bureaucracy of any central bureaucracy is organized under a ‘secretary’. The secretary is followed by ‘additional secretaries’ and the additional secretaries by ‘joint secretaries’.

A minister, who is the overall head of the ministry, can be in charge of several ministries. It is, for example, common to have a single minister for departments of IT and telecom.

However, the bureaucracy, starting with the ‘secretary’, is part of only one department, such as IT (and not telecom at the same time).

Much of the actual work in a central department happens under teams supervised by joint secretaries. In other words, joint secretaries are the hands-on people who implement various programs and policies of the government.

Typically, only those belonging to the central civil services cadres — such as the IAS — and have risen through the ranks are hired as joint secretaries.

FROM GENERALIST TO SPECIALIST

However, the practice of hiring IAS people to head all kinds of technical departments, such as petroleum, aviation, IT and telecom, has generated its own share of criticism as the IAS officers are often seen as ‘generalists’, and not specialists.

This is because a typical high-ranking bureaucrat — such as secretary or joint secretary — stays in his or her position only for a couple of years. Tenures of five years are more the exceptions.

More worrying is the fact that these bureaucrats are regularly shuffled across departments and ministries.

It is not uncommon to move a joint secretary in the ministry of urban planning to the position of a joint secretary in the ministry of textiles.

Part of the reason why the officials are subjected to regular transfers — often to a new department — is the same as why bank employees are transferred from their branches every three years: to prevent any corruption.

As an example, RS Sharma, the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India — a job that requires a high degree of technical and industry expertise — has in the past been appointed to various roles such as chief secretary to the Jharkhand government, Jharkhand’s principal secretary of public health and engineering, and so on.

However, such frequent transfers deny the officials a chance to become specialist in that particular field.

The move to recruit people from the industry, academia and non-governmental sector is likely targeted at overcoming this key shortcoming. It is also likely to be inspired by the American model where even ‘ministers’ are recruited from the non-political class.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

While the potential benefits of the move are obvious, the opposition have been quick to point out the potential pitfalls and dangers of opening up positions in the higher bureaucracy to ‘ordinary people’.

The biggest risk that they have pointed out is the possibility of the individual showing partiality to his or her former employers or business associates.

This has often been a cause for concern in the US.

For example, several employees of Wall Street companies such as Goldman Sachs have taken up jobs as ‘finance ministers’ (Treasury Secretaries) in successive US administrations, where they could be in a position to decide on matters that can have tremendous impact on their former employers.

In other words, the same factors that make ‘private sector’ people such excellent choices for top positions in bureaucracy — including their extensive networking contacts in the industry — can also make them vulnerable to allegations of bias from the opposition.

The US, which has been sourcing top bureaucrats from the private sector for a long time, has established practices such as confirmation hearings by the upper house of the legislature to confirm the candidates appointed by the president.

However, given that the Modi government is only giving the position of ‘Joint Secretary’ — which is No.3 in seniority within the ministry — to private citizens, the requirement for such elaborate ‘double checks’ are perhaps not as pressing.

Another big concern that not many are highlight, but is almost certainly going to come to play, is the possibility of a ‘turf’ war between IAS officers and ‘civilians’.

IAS officers have a reputation for excellent networking and organization, and for defending their rights and privileges effectively.

However, such hassles can be overcome by the minister if he or she so wishes. For example, many ministers do bring in ‘civilians’ into powerful positions in the form of ‘officers on special duty (OSDs)’ or as ‘personal secretaries’.

Such civilians often exert a lot of influence in their respective ministries — often rivalling that of the department secretary — without causing any bureaucratic revolt because it is well known that he or she has the support of the minister.

An example of a recent lateral appointment is the case of Nandan Nilekani, the former Infosys executive who was brought in by the UPA government to head the Unique Identification Authority of India or UIDAI. Nilekani, who successfully carried out his mandate, was given the rank of a cabinet minister.

REACTIONS

So far, the reactions to the move have been largely along expected lines.

Many of the traditional ‘opposition’ have termed the move ‘dangerous’, a ‘ploy’ and so on, while others supported the move to tap a wider pool of talent to improve governance.

Shah Faesal, who became the first Kashmiri to top the Indian Civil Service Examination of 2009, was among those who applauded the move. “I totally support GoI (government of India) decision to allow lateral entry of professionals at Joint Secretary level,” he said.

“It’ll make the services more competitive and force IAS to specialise. New ideas will come in. And the fun part, that those who couldn’t enter IAS when young, find a crack in the wall!”

Ashok Khemka, one of the ‘most transferred’ IAS officers in India and one with a reputation as a ‘whistle blower’, also welcomed the move.

“Lateral recruitments to the posts of Joint Secretary in Govt of India notified,” he said on Twitter. “May the best talents from outside nurture public services.”

Tehseen Poonawalla, a well-known critic of the current administration, called the move one of the last nails in Indian democracy and termed it as unfair to career bureaucrats.

“So a person puts in years of efforts gets into services & the govt decides to get a lateral entry,” he pointed out. “How will a person say from a private bank who enters as joint secretary Finance later be moved to say agriculture and manage that. This is destroying the steel framework of India.”

“We are heading towards being taken over by a fascist government &their corporates. I will challenge this in court,” he added.

Rifat Jawaid, journalist and founder of jantakareporter.com, called it a “chilling” move. “If you ever needed example of how this government was following Hitler’s dangerous methodology, this is it,” he said.

https://ultra.news/t-t/40242/talent-hunt-govt-opens-top-positions-to-all-citizens

Source: Ultra News

Jogulamba Gadwal top in silk production in TS

Jogulamba Gadwal: Jogulamba Gadwal has become a front-runner in production of silk in Telangana State after the reorganisation of districts just one-and-a-half years ago. What used to be just 80 acres of mulberry cultivation has increased to more than 150 acres, thanks to the subsidies sericulture farmers have been receiving from the government. Farmers in Nadigadda are considering sericulture as a sustainable livelihood option these days.

Through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) material component, farmers have been getting Rs 1,13,000 for building sheds to grow silkworms and Rs 60,000 per acre for growing mulberry crop (crop maintenance) through the wage component of the scheme.

There were about 80 beneficiaries before the districts’ reorganisation, which has now gone up to 150 sericulture farmers. Awareness was also created among farmers by the Horticulture Department, under which sericulture is managed in the district.

As a result, even in the remote villages like Bynapally and Pulikal in Ieeja mandal which borders Telangana with Rayalaseema region, sericulture has found new takers. There are eight newly registered sericulture farmers in Pulikal gram panchayat which includes Bynapally and two other hamlets.

Punju Nagamma and her son Punju Manikyamma are two sericulture farmers who have been cultivating mulberry since three years. They are small farmers who have taken the government subsidy and have built sheds to raise silkworm in their farmlands. They have hired an expert named Venugopal Reddy, a sericulture expert from Chittoor district a year ago, to take care of their farm. Today, Reddy not only serves his family but also other families in providing his services to sericulture farmers in the region (comes with a charge), so that maximum yield could be achieved without incurring major losses.

There was a time in the early and late nineties, when farmers in Telangana region had showed great interest in sericulture. But due to mulberry crops failing and silkworms dying, farmers had suffered heavy losses back then. Since then, sericulture, which had huge potential in Telangana region, had seen a drastic decline.

“It is true that farmers suffered in the past. But the reason then was that farmers had to dedicate a considerable amount of time in cutting the right kind of leaves and feeding the larva at a very early stage of their life cycle. If anything went wrong, the entire yield used to be destroyed. Now, we are being provided Chaaki (silkworms) after rearing them from their larva stage. It is easier now because leaves need not be cut and branches can now be directly fed to silkworms. Maintaining hygiene and temperature are paramount to success in sericulture,” opined Pathuri Somi Reddy, District Horticultural Officer, Jogulamba Gadwal.

However, sericulture farmers still come complaining about their silkworms dying in just an hour. There is a reason for this, say experts like Venugopal Reddy. “Silkworms fed by mulberry crop in previously fertilizer and pesticide used fields tend to die due to the harmful effects of chemicals,” said Venugopal Reddy, speaking to Telangana Today.

Fortunately, Singa Reddy has a solution to the problem. He has been recommending the farmers to grow two crops of maize or some other crop organically (for a year) before starting sericulture and growing mulberry, so that the effects of chemicals can be nullified or at least reduced.

According to Somi Reddy, silk rates have pretty much remained stable in the recent past, with minimum price per kilogram being Rs 400 per kg. According to him, 150 disease-free layings per acre can yield 150 kg of silk. If the price is Rs 400 per kg, the crop would yield Rs 48,000 per crop, which can be harvested within a month with an expenditure of Rs 8,000 to 10,000 per crop. This would mean 7 to 8 crops can be harvested in a year, fetching returns of almost Rs 3.5 lakh for a farmer, per acre.

Till now, sericulture farmers in Telangana had no other option but to take their cocoons to be threaded and sold at procurement centres at Hindupur in Rayalaseema region and Trimulgherry in Secunderabad.

With the new Gadwal Textile Park coming up and due to the growing demand for silk yield from Telangana which has an edge over silk from other regions, sericulture farmers are hoping that a procurement centre with a threading and a silk processing centre with skilled workers and modern machinery would be setup at the Gadwal Textile Park, which is under construction in Jogulamba Gadwal.

https://telanganatoday.com/jogulamba-gadwal-top-in-silk-production-in-ts

Source: Telanga Today

INTERNATIONAL

North Korea: Fashion’s Next Sourcing Opportunity?

The relationship between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has been dominating the news cycles for months. But while the media focuses on these two leaders, manufacturers in Asia have been quietly eyeing up North Korea as the region’s next low-cost sourcing destination.

"Critical conditions for low cost sourcing hubs are low wages and a quick-learning workforce, and North Korea has both. Considering key factors for competitiveness, North Korea has the potential to become a hub [similar] to Vietnam,” predicts Taeho Sim, a partner at A.T. Kearney based in Seoul, South Korea.

Most observers see the June 12th Singapore summit between Trump and Kim as an overture that could lead to further talks. While it is too premature for trade to be high on the official agenda, the lifting or easing of sanctions against North Korea is undoubtedly one of Kim’s objectives.

"I believe sanctions on North Korea will be lifted through the peace process,” says Sim. “The US-North Korea summit talk in Singapore will bring significant progress with the confirmation of CVID [complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation]. And North Korea will get financial aid [if this] is confirmed."

Trump has already said that no new sanctions will be imposed on Pyongyang around the time of the summit — and while the White House has implied current sanctions will not be removed either, trade will be a major bargaining chip in any denuclearisation talks.

Foundations of a garment industry

Ending trade embargoes would have an immediate impact on North Korea, opening it up to business and industry — and fashion would be at the heart of this. “Clothing and textiles is one of the biggest export categories in North Korea, along with mineral manufactured products," says Kim.

The country’s garment and textile industry was estimated to be worth $725 million in 2016, a substantial proportion of its economy, and even with sanctions in place, apparel manufacturing employs a significant number of North Korean citizens in state-run factories around the country. This is largely due to the fact that the textiles category was not included in the UN sanctions list until September of last year.

Peace — or progress toward peace — is certainly not a foregone conclusion at a summit between two of the most unpredictable leaders in modern history and clearly the challenges that lie ahead before North Korea can re-join the international community are huge.

Even in a post-peace scenario, there would be serious and protracted risks related to investing in North Korea. While China and South Korea both have a vested interest in keeping North Korea in a relatively stable condition — not least to lower the number of people trying to escape across the border into their own territories — neither country is able to control the volatility of North Korea’s leadership.

“Inter-Korean relations, and relations between North Korea and the major regional and world powers, means that investing in facilities in the North could lead to bouts of major uncertainty for the companies involved,” says a spokesperson from market research firm BMI.

“Foreign firms investing in North Korea would inevitably have to brace for uncertainty if South Korea elects a conservative president (one less friendly to the North) in 2022, or if the anticipated ‘denuclearisation’ process (which probably won’t happen as the US envisages it) stalls. Not to mention the possibility of [regime] change in North Korea itself.”

But according to some apparel industry leaders, the potential rewards could outweigh these risks, making the country an attractive proposition for manufacturers in the years to come, particularly those based in neighbouring markets.

“We can’t deny that there is a major opportunity here,” says Gerhard Flatz, the managing director of KTC, a sportswear manufacturer in Guangdong, China. “North Korea [could be] the East Africa of the future, but better placed, and it could play a significant role in Asian manufacturing, as brands urgently have to start relocating their sourcing.”

Manufacturing in North Korea could allow them to move sourcing closer to existing supply chains, while making goods in one of the cheapest labour markets on earth. Wages are less than half of what they are in China and North Korean workers are reported to be “more productive” than Chinese workers. Working conditions are so harsh in North Korea, however, that the ethical dimension of manufacturing there is fraught with problems.

As China focuses on producing more complex, technical garments and Vietnam’s labour shortages continue, a reformed North Korean manufacturing sector could solve a number of regional supply chain problems.

“Companies produce in China not for the prices but for the knowledge,” says Flavien Serra, the director DTL Sourcing. “For many years, low-cost industries have had to move [from China] to countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, so the arrival of North Korea on the scene would be welcome and would certainly increase competition between those countries.”

Flatz likens the potential opening up of North Korea to the apparel industry’s move into Myanmar a few years ago. “In these countries, the moment sanctions were lifted and duty-free advantages were applied, manufacturing boomed,” he says. “There was once an image issue with Myanmar, particularly to do with human rights, but now nobody talks about it — at the end of the day, consumers mainly care about price.”

However, violence against the Rohingya minority and the ensuing humanitarian crisis has prompted some business leaders to re-examine their activities in Myanmar.

Source: Business of Fashion

Pakistan: Amendments to HS codes suspend clearance of textile pigments

The clearance of textile raw material (pigments) has virtually suspended due to non-feeding of the amendments made to its HS codes in federal budget 2018-19.
Informed sources said the federal government in recent budget 2018-19 had split HS codes of textile raw material (Pigments) into three PCT headings, creating problems for the importers to avail the tax benefit of SRO 1125(I)/2011.
They said that customs department had so far not fed the said PCT headings – 3204.1790, 3204.1720, 3204.1710 in the WeBOC system. Resultantly, the importers are being denied to get SRO 1125(I)/2011 benefits by the system, which led virtually, suspended the clearance of subject goods.
In this regard, the Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) in its letter cited that in the recent budget, the HS code 3204.1700 of pigment has been substituted with the HS code 3204.1710 and 3204.1720 but the exemption under SRO 1125(I)/2011 has not updated in system, creating difficulties for the importers and clearing agents to claim the benefit of sales tax under the said SRO, which was integrated with the PCT headings 3204.1700.
It said that following the said reasons, unnecessary delay in the clearance of consignments, which were presently lying at ports, was costing heavy demurrages to the trade.

https://pakobserver.net/amendments-to-hs-codes-suspend-clearance-of-textile-pigments/

Source: Pak Observer

Bangladesh: Law to maintain quality of textile products coming; Bill placed

A bill titled 'The Textile Act, 2018' was placed in Parliament on Sunday, aiming to maintain the quality of textile products as Bangladesh earns huge foreign currency from apparel exports.

State minister for textiles and jute Mirza Azam placed the Bill in the House and it was sent to the respective scrutiny committee for further examination.

The committee was asked to submit its report within 15 working days.

As per the draft law, a directorate will be formed with a director general as its head who will be appointed by the government.

The DG will work as its registrar and an officer responsible to inspect quality and standard of various elements used in the textile products, including paint and other chemicals.

The government can establish a laboratory of international standard to carry out such activities.

About the provision of punishment, the proposed law states that the registration of any company can be suspended or even cancelled for giving wrong or false information while getting registered.

http://www.newagebd.net/article/43362/law-to-maintain-quality-of-textile-products-coming-bill-placed

Source: NEWAGE Bangladesh

Israeli Manufacturers Dump 20,000 Garments in Tax Protest

YERUSHALAYIM -In a first-of-its-kind protest, dozens of clothing manufacturers in Tel Aviv decided to give away their products – dumping them into a pile that eventually grew to 20,000 items, available for passerby to pick through and take home. The event was organized by a group called the Movement for Israeli Fashion, and was designed to protest what the over 150 members of the group said was the government’s failure to protect them from unfair competition. “Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon doesn’t care about our businesses,” said one of the group’s members, Daniel Elharar. “At least 4o to 50 manufacturers went out of business in the first half of this year. We have no hope.”

An overvalued shekel, next to zero duty on clothing imported from the Far East, and the requirement that Value Added sales Tax (VAT) be paid on purchases from Israeli retail stores – while items that are bought online from foreign sales sites are exempt from all taxes in most cases – are the main issues that are making it almost impossible for clothing manufacturers and retailers to compete, Elharar told Yediot Acharonot. “I have to compete against goods made in China that are subsidized by their government, and I have to pay extra taxes, in the form of VAT,” he said. “Other countries either place a protective tariff on imported goods to defend local industry, or otherwise compensate local manufacturers. Here we have neither.”

In order to protect manufacturers, the organization is demanding that the government impose tariffs on Chinese imports, or negotiate a trade deal that will make it as easy and as cheap for them to export to China as it is for Chinese manufacturers to export to Israel. According to the group, all Western countries – except Israel – have tariffs in place on Chinese imports. The EU has a 12 percent tariff on such imports, Canada and Australia an 18 percent tariff, and the United States between 17 percent and 33 percent, depending on the item. The group is also demanding that purchases of clothing in amounts of up to $75 be exempt from VAT, as they are for online purchases from foreign sales sites.

Without those strictures, the Israeli clothing industry will soon be a thing of the past; manufacturers are failing on a weekly basis, Elharar said. “Half a year ago we had 200 companies in our group, now we are 150. The public is largely unaware that there are even any Israeli manufacturers.” Elharar said that the group had attempted to appeal to Kahlon, but had gotten a cold shoulder. “He won’t even acknowledge what we are going through. Maybe he is waiting for the next elections, but we need some hope now.” Yediot said that Kahlon’s office refused to comment on the matter.

https://hamodia.com/2018/06/10/israeli-manufacturers-dump-20000-garments-tax-protest/

Source: Hamodia

Pakistan: Aptma rejects textile package

LAHORE: The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has rejected the textile package being extended by the previous government, saying that it would reverse 15 percent growth in exports, a statement said on Saturday.

The previous government had repeatedly assured the textile industry of the continuation of the original package, announced 18 months ago in January 2017, it said.

The previous government had further assured that it would strictly be available for exports from indigenous materials.

“It was agreed between the Aptma leadership and the previous government that rebate would be offered on indigenous materials,” a spokesman for the association said, adding: “But the package has revealed that it would be extended to the Indian products.”

Further, the CEC also criticised reduction in rebate and exclusion of yarn and fabric from the list.

The CEC also rejected the imposition of 11 percent duty on import of cotton from July 15, as the domestic cotton production in the coming season is expected to be even less than 10 million bales and the industry will have to import more than five million bales to meet the shortage.

The spokesman said the Aptma CEC met on Friday with group leader Gohar Ejaz and Aamir Fayyaz in the chair to consider developments regarding imposition of duty on cotton and changes in the export package by the previous government.

The CEC apprehended that the imposition of import duty on cotton would erode the viability and competitiveness of industry and nullify the gains in exports during the last one year.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/327776-aptma-rejects-textile-package

Source: The News CN

Ethiopia: GMO cotton approved for plantations

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has approved the cultivation of Genetically Modified Cotton in Ethiopia.

Undergoing two seasons (years) of confined field trials, the genetically modified cotton – best known as BT-Cotton – has finally secured the approval from the Ministry for “environmental release” or for the cultivation of the biotechnologically engineered cotton for commercial purposes.

Assefa Gudina, Biosafety Affairs Directorate director with the Ministry told The Reporter that the approval of the BT-Cotton came into play following the formal request made by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research.

According to Assefa, the release of BT-Cotton has been approved based on the analyses made by experts and technical team composed from various organizations that have assessed the final report the agricultural institute has submitted. The analysis confirmed GM cotton is safe for environment, ecosystem and human health Assefa assured. He went on to say that, BT cotton is less likely to cause hazard as it does not cross pollinate. Hence, the biotech cotton is expected to be cultivated from both small and on large-scale basis once the National Seed Approval Committee endorses the cotton seeds. The ministry has granted an ‘advanced informed permit’ for two cotton hybrids:  JKCH 1050 and JKCH 1947, trademarks of seeds registered in India and with which Ethiopia is expected to initiate plantations.

According to the Biosafety Proclamation no. 896/2015 amended in 2015, there are indicative clauses that suggest GMOs could be approved based on fulfillments of certain requirements. In the proclamation, sub-article 6, stated that ‘advance informed agreement' is a written consent granted by the ministry for the undertaking of any transaction ofmodified organism destined to be released into the environment in the country other than for contained use. This and ‘special permit’ clause of the proclamation has enabled for the approval of the biotech cotton to go for commercial use. A special permit is a legal permit issued for research and trial purposes by the ministry.

Despite the roaring criticisms and debates over the introduction of GMOs in Ethiopia, the agricultural institute has requested the ministry for the special permit to undertake trials on biotech maize in the country.

 Tadesse Dabba (PhD), director general of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, said that the approval for commercial plantation of cotton will be followed by the scientific trials that are going to be applied on GM maize. The ministry has legitimized trials on maize to be undertaken for five years. The research trails will concentrate on finding out drought tolerant and insect resistant biotech maize suitable to Ethiopia. It is also confirmed that Ethiopian agricultural scientists are also working on to develop resistant varieties of Enset an Ethiopian banana or widely known as false banana.

Literature indicates that BT cotton is a bacterium of Bacillus thuringiensis that produces over 200 different BT toxins, each harmful to diverse insects. Most notably, BT toxins are insecticidal to the larvae of moths, butterflies, beetles, cotton bollworms and other flies but are harmless to other forms of life. The gene coding for BT toxin has been inserted into cotton as a transgene causing it to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues.

https://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/gmo-cotton-approved-plantations

Source: The Reporter

AGOA: Government to pay taxes for affected Rwandans

To ensure Rwandan exporters are not significantly affected by the anticipated suspension of duty-free access to the US market under the AGOA framework, government has decided to take over the resultant tax obligations.

This follows the move by the American government on March 31st announcing their intention to suspend the application of duty-free treatment to all African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)-eligible goods in the apparel sector for Rwanda.

According to a statement from the US government, the suspension would take effect in 60 days (from March 31) in case Rwanda maintains its policy on used clothes, commonly known as Cagua.

However, the Government has said that to ensure minimal disruption to the businesses, they are putting up an adjustment facility to pay taxes imposed on the exporters for the next one year.

During an exclusive interview, Rwanda Development Board CEO, Clare Akamanzi, told The New Times that this would allow firms work on accessing new markets as well as meet existing contractual obligations to the American market.

“In the meantime, for those who are going to be affected by AGOA suspension government is going to work with them to allow them to finish the orders that they were working on in the US for the next one year and we will pay the taxes for them. We would not like their orders to be affected as they seek alternative markets.  We are putting in place  an adjustment facility that will allow us to have a fund to pay their taxes that will be imposed,” she said in an exclusive interview.

She said that the overall intention is to identify alternative markets such as Europe, Asia and the African continent that can allow duty free access.

“Our intention is to work with them to find alternative markets.  We will find duty-free opportunities in the European Union as well as Asia and Africa where we can find markets,” she noted.

The suspension is a consequence of implementation by Rwanda of an East African Community decission to phase out second-hand clothes imports to help boost the region’s budding textile industry.

In 2015, the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State adopted a three-year gradual process to phase out the importation of second-hand clothing and footwear to promote textile, apparel and leather industries in the region.

Akamanzi said that despite the consequences of going ahead with implementing the decision, Rwanda would not change its stance.

“We have been engaging the US government but I think what is clear is that decision to raise tariffs (on cagua), was not only Rwanda’s decision. All the countries of EAC decided to do this and Rwanda is sticking by the decision to do this”.

She said there is no specific reason to opt out of a decision that was collectively taken by the bloc in the interest of its people.

“This is an EAC decision and we intend to continue implementing what we agreed”.

She added: “there might be consequences for deciding to keep our word. The US has decided that they might phase out duty-free access for apparels to the American market. Our plan as government is to work with companies that will be affected. They are very few. The main one is C&H but we have other smaller ones as well.”

 Rwanda’s strategy to develop the textiles, apparel and leather industrial sectors aims to increase the quality and quantity of textile, apparel and leather for both local and foreign markets.

Rwanda estimated that, if everything is implemented according to plan, this could create 25,655 jobs, increase exports to $43 million and decrease imports to $33 million by 2019 (from $124 million in 2015).

The impact on trade balance will result in savings of $76 million over a 3-year period.

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/agoa-government-pay-taxes-affected-rwandans

Source: The New Times

Egypt: Cotton cultivation area increase to 321.8K: Minster

CAIRO – 10 June 2018: The total area of cotton cultivation this season increased by 100,000 feddans on a year-on-year basis, recording about 321,787 feddans, an official report showed. 

The report revealed that Kafr el-Sheikh governorate came at the top of the governorates in terms of cultivating cotton with a land of 97,000 feddans, followed by Behaira by 56,657 feddans, Dakhalia by 51,352 and Sharkia by 48,349 feddans.

Al-Fayoum cultivated 16,162 feddans of cotton, and Gharbia cultivated 14,237 feddans, according to the report. 

Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Abdel Moneim el-Banna said that the Egyptian cotton's cultivation started to recover, referring that the minimum cultivated area, reached 130,000 feddans in 2016’s season. 

In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture announced it has taken measures to support the domestic cotton sector and increase long-term productivity of the long-staple and medium-length cotton. 

The exports of the Egyptian cotton amounted to $462 million in 2016, a report by ITC Trade showed. 

Three new varieties of high-yield cotton crop have been registered to suit the local yarn industry and increase its yield by 10 quintals per feddan, Banna added. 

According to Banna, a classification map for Egyptian cotton was also prepared and distributed in the governorates, showing the cultivated varieties in each governorate, their productivity, and a map of the cultivars and the approved varieties for each fork. 

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said in May that the government in Egypt is keen on upgrading the system of cotton cultivation and textile industry to better meet demands of the local market and enhance exports. 

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said that Egyptian cotton exports (from December 2017 to February 2018) increased by 181.6 percent to reach 379,700 tons against 134,800 tons during the same quarter of the previous year. 

In 2018, the ministry announced it will increase areas used for cotton cultivation to reach 216,000 feddans to meet increasing demand from foreign countries. 

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/3/51877/Cotton-cultivation-area-increase-to-321-8K-Minster

Source: Egypt Today

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