• CCI AD FROM 5th April 2021





India looks forward to advance talks for investment facilitation pact with EU: Piyush Goyal

India is keen to advance talks with the European Union (EU) towards an agreement on investment facilitation and protection for mutually beneficial outcome, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday. The minister also emphasised on the need for proportional and simultaneous discussions on both trade and investment so that the two sides have a balanced outcome.

Further, Goyal called for an early harvest agreement and addressing non-tariff barriers between the two sides. He said this while addressing the ambassadors of the EU member states today. "India looks forward to advance the negotiations towards an agreement between India and EU on investment facilitation and protection for mutually beneficial outcome," he said. He also informed that India has sent more than 65 million COVID-19 vaccines to over 80 countries around the world.

Goyal also said that India has proposed TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) waiver at WTO (World Trade Organisation) for a limited period so that humanity at large could have access to the COVID-19 related products, and sought the support of the EU on the issue. EU countries collectively are the largest trading partner for India, as well as one of the largest investors.

Source: The Economic Times

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India, EU to resume formal FTA talks in May

After a gap of about eight years, India and the EU will resume formal negotiations for a trade and investment agreement on May 8, with both sides aiming to expedite a deal to aid economic growth in the post-pandemic era.

In a virtual meeting with Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva on Tuesday, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said “that resumption of formal negotiations on both Trade and Investment agreements at the Leaders’ Meeting of India and EU on 8th May, 2021 in Porto, Portugal would be a notable success for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union”, the finance ministry tweeted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the leaders’ summit.

The EU, including the UK, was India’s largest export destination (as a bloc) in FY20, with a 17% share in the country’s overall outbound shipments.

The dialogues come at a time when India’s planned free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU has lost some of its sheen, thanks to Brexit. The UK accounted for 16% of India’s $53.7-billion exports to the EU in FY20. Hence, trade deals with both the EU and the UK are crucial. In fact, India and the UK are also exploring the feasibility of a trade agreement.

After 16 rounds of talks between 2007 and 2013, negotiations for an India-EU FTA were stuck due to differences, as the bloc insisted that India cut import duties on automobiles and wine (which would benefit mainly Germany and France), among others. The UK is unlikely to be too rigid over these issues, analysts have said.

In February, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had pitched for a quick “early-harvest deal” with the EU, in a meeting with EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis. This, he had suggested, could be followed by a time-bound and balanced FTA.

The renewed thrust on trade talks after the Covid-19 disruptions reinforces India’s commitment towards greater integration with the global value chain, just as it maintains that its Atmanirbhar initiative is not inward-looking. Having pulled out of the China-dominated RCEP deal, India has been seeking to expedite trade talks with large markets.

India and the EU have already agreed to a review of the progress of discussions on the proposed bilateral trade and investment agreement on a monthly basis by senior officials. It will be followed by a quarterly review by both Goyal and Dombrovskis.

Source: The Financial Express

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Zetwerk Manufacturing expands into apparel and consumer durable segments

Zetwerk Manufacturing, a B2B online marketplace which is backed by investors like Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, Greenoaks, Lightspeed Partners, and Kae Capital is foraying into apparel and consumer durable sectors amidst an increased demand and supply chain disruptions post the outbreak of covid-19, the company said.

This foray into new categories also comes at a time when the government of India is increasing its efforts to build a local self-reliant manufacturing ecosystem and drive demand for local production of consumer durables and electronics.

“Zetwerk is transforming the future of manufacturing. The pandemic has pushed brands to rethink their design-to-delivery supply chain and has also propelled suppliers to leverage technology and adopt digital solutions. Our single-minded objective is to help suppliers modernize their go-to-market strategy, make their manufacturing processes robust, and provide them with data-driven business insights to deliver world-class products to our customers. For our customers, we bring to them high-quality production at globally competitive costs and lead-times,” said Amrit Acharya, CEO & Co-founder, Zetwerk Manufacturing.

“We are very excited about entering apparel and consumer durable and believe that this will strengthen Indian manufacturing ecosystem and realise the country’s dream of making in India for the world,” Acharya added.

Zetwerk is working with large apparel brands and retail chains to produce products of various knits, weaves across categories like denim for men, women, and kids wear categories. On the consumer durables side, Zetwerk has capabilities in product development, assembly, and local manufacturing of components.

It has set up factories for kitchen appliances, IoT devices, and a TV factory in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. It also plans to enter the white goods and audio-visual categories in the near future.

Founded in 2018, Zetwerk works with several companies across industries such as railways, water, transmission and distribution, oil and gas, defence, aerospace, apparel and electronics. It works with more than 2000 suppliers and has made on-time execution and delivery of more than 1000 projects in over 15 countries.

In February, Zetwerk raised $120 million in Series D funding round led by US-based Greenoaks Capital and Lightspeed taking its overall fundraise to close to $200 million. Sequoia Capital India and Kae Capital also participated in the round.

Source: The Economic Times

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Indonesia, South Africa set up textile joint venture company

Indonesian garment company and South African micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are cooperating to establish a textile joint venture company, Pan Africa.

"Establishing a factory by involving local resources and local wisdom is the most tangible form of bilateral cooperation. Today, we are witnessing a manifestation of good concerns and thoughts between the two countries," according to Indonesian Ambassador to South Africa, Salman Al Farisi, as noted in a statement issued by the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria and received here, Monday.

"With emphasis on empowering small businesses and women, in my opinion, this kind of partnership model is doable to work on in a non-traditional market, such as Africa," Ambassador Al Farisi stated during the launch and inauguration event of the Indonesia-South Africa partnership company, Pan Africa, in the heart of Johannesburg's business and commercial area.

Pan Africa is a joint venture company between Indonesia's leading garment company, Pan Brothers Tbk and South African MSME, Faithfulness.

At the inauguration ceremony of the joint venture company, Ambassador Al Farisi lauded the start of Pan Africa that he deemed as an ideal arrangement of mutually beneficial partnership.

The Indonesian ambassador was accompanied by Head of the Indonesia Trade Promotion Center in Johannesburg, Anggun Paramita Mahdi, and Director of Faithfulness, Selina Siganga.

Siganga is the founder and senior managing director of the Faithfulness Business Enterprise that has long been engaged in the consulting business for commodity suppliers.

In its operations, Pan Africa will import semi-finished personal protective equipment (PPE) garments from Indonesia and then finalize the processing at the Johannesburg factory.

On the same occasion, the head of ITPC Johannesburg expressed belief that the success of the establishment of this company can serve as a precedent and pilot project for other Indonesian products, especially PPE, to enter and be accepted by the South African market.

Meanwhile, Deputy Managing Director of Pan Brothers Indonesia, Anne Patricia Sutanto, in her online remarks expressed gratitude for the assistance and support from the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria and ITPC Johannesburg during the initial process of establishing Pan Africa.

Sutanto was also optimistic that the opening of the Pan Africa factory would be the start of deeper cooperation in future.

Inauguration of the Pan Africa operations was viewed as being a positive achievement by the Indonesian representatives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria remains committed to maintaining economic diplomacy, including through business-to-business facilitation.

In 2021, the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria will continue to work on new agreements between Indonesia and South Africa, ranging from the visa-free regime to socio-cultural diplomacy.

Source: AntaraNews

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Textile exports decrease by 1.42pc in 8 months: SBP

The exports of textile and its articles from the country witnessed decrease of 1.42 percent during the eight months of current financial year 2020-21 as compared to the corresponding month of last year.

Pakistan exported textile and its articles worth US $9057.503 million during July-February (2020-21) against the exports of US $9152.889 million during July-February (2019-20), showing negative growth of 1.42 percent, according to the data issued by the State Bank of Pakistan.

The commodities that contributed in growth were man-made staple fibers, export of which grew from $206.962 million last year to $208.318 million during the period under review, showing growth of 0.65 percent.

The exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories grew by 1.63 percent from $2247.134 million to $2058.455 million while the exports other made-up textile articles (sets, worn cloth) also increased by 9.86 percent from $2692.131 million to $2957.635 million.

During the period under review, the export of silk rose by 44.41 percent from $1.360 million to $1.964 million whereas the export of other vegetable textile fibers (paper yarn) increased by 52.23 percent from $4.813 million to $7.327 million, the data revealed.

Meanwhile, the export of special woven fabrics, tufted textile fabrics, lace increased by 89.52 percent from $26.234 million to $49.720 million, the data added.

On the other hand, the commodities that contributed in negative growth included cotton, exports of which declined by 21.44 percent from $2215.134 million to $1740.110 million while the export of man-made filaments also decreased by 34.02 percent from $36.526 million to $24.097 million.

During the period under review, the articles of apparel and clothing not knitted dipped by 4.63 percent from $1806.264 million to $1722.633 million while the exports of carpets and other textile floor covering also decreased by 4.29 percent, from $52.843 million to $50.573 million, the data revealed.

Source: The Business Recorder

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Fifty years of the evolution of trade policy in Bangladesh

The country celebrated the golden jubilee of independence this year, and there is indeed much to celebrate. Analysts of all shades of opinion have hailed the quality of social and economic progress achieved by the country which was, at inception, derided as a "basket case" by none other than Henry Kissinger, the then US secretary of state. Bangladesh emerged in 1972 with a per capita income of under USD 100, at the bottom of the income pile, in the company of such nations as Chad, Rwanda, Burundi, and Nepal. Today, having crossed the per capita income threshold of USD 2000, with a GDP of USD 325 billion, it ranks in the top 40 economies of the world by GDP.

The growth momentum it picked up in the 1990s has not lost steam yet. The minor dip in fiscal year (FY) 2020 growth notwithstanding, over the past two decades, Bangladesh has recorded the fastest rate of GDP growth among developing countries. Any economy that consistently records six to seven percent GDP growth per annum for two decades has to experience significant augmentation of income per capita accompanied with substantial reduction of poverty. The economy and society also undergoes momentous transformation as a consequence. That is exactly what has happened in this country of 166 million people.

What were the key drivers of this notable transformation? Of course, there were positive political and social developments that planted the pillars of stability and inclusiveness in the transformation process. In my view, the general direction of economic policies was broadly consistent with the fundamental tenets of macroeconomic stability that laid the foundations for rapid growth and poverty reduction. To keen observers of the Bangladesh economic scene, the trigger that unleashed the forces of rapid economic growth would have to be the radical change of direction in trade policy (complemented by market orientation and deregulation) during much of the 1990s.

It is now possible to make the assessment that after the first two decades of prevarication in trade policy, Bangladesh was able to change course and get it right—at least partially so. In my assessment, nowhere in the policy space was there such a radical change of direction as in the case of trade policy. Evidence shows that Bangladesh massively reaped the benefits of those changes in the subsequent decades.

In the 1970s, trade policy as an instrument of development never seemed to have been on the radar. The priority agenda was addressing massive poverty and fuelling economic recovery, largely through domestic policies supported with donor assistance. By default, the trade policy stance was a legacy of the past—where East Pakistan was turned into a captive market for West Pakistani financial and industrial corporates via high tariffs and import controls, resulting in an inward-looking import substituting economy. Starting with zero foreign exchange reserves to pay for much needed imports, high tariffs and import controls were found to be the expedient approach to keep from falling into a balance of payments crisis.

The notable industrial and trade policy innovation (indeed, we can call it that) came with the special dispensation formulated for the readymade garments industry at the end of the decade. The innovation was the grant of duty-free importation of inputs and back-to-back letter of credit (LC) facility to cover import costs, to be paid from export proceeds. Taking advantage of this facility, Desh garments, set up by an influential civil servant, collaborated with the Korean firm, Daewoo, to launch a 100 percent export-oriented enterprise to access Western markets under the multi-fibre arrangement (MFA) that offered export quotas for Bangladesh. Thus was born Bangladesh's leading manufacturing sector, that would exploit Bangladesh's comparative advantage in labour-intensive production and create millions of jobs, particularly for women.

There were three notable developments in the trade policy arena during the 1980s. First, there was widespread disenchantment over import substitution—which restricted imports to grow domestic industries—as a strategy of development, because there was growing evidence that this approach neither generated competitive industrialisation nor fuelled growth. On the other hand, protectionism tended to perpetuate itself, leaving numerous inefficient firms in its wake, as "infant" industries failed to become competitive and needed higher protection over time to survive.

Second, departing from the import substitution regime, a new development paradigm—export-led growth—had emerged out of the tremendous export-led growth successes of several East Asian economies (described by the World Bank as the East Asian Miracle) in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, this new paradigm had got a firm foothold in development discourse. Third, there was the Washington Consensus—a set of free-market economic policies that emphasised inter alia trade liberalisation and was promoted by multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB)—which gained currency among development institutions and most development practitioners.

Inexplicably, these significant developments in the policy sphere got little attention from policymakers in Bangladesh. Thus, as far as trade policy developments in Bangladesh are concerned, the 1980s was a lost decade. There was little traction in mainstreaming trade policy as an instrument for development as the government took no initiative to bring trade policies into the development discourse.

When trade-related actions were taken at the prompting of multilateral institutions, it tended to be episodic (for example, tied to some World Bank loan) and limited to tariff liberalisation for specific imports or sectors, without a holistic approach towards the overall extent of trade openness or measures to augment competitiveness.

The only notable development was the tariff liberalisation for imports of agricultural inputs, which complemented the deregulation in domestic agricultural markets—for seeds, fertiliser, machinery and implements. The general trade policy stance did little to improve the balance of payments (BOP) situation, nor did it fuel GDP growth, which was anaemic throughout the decade, culminating in the BOP crisis of 1990. What could be levelled as a missed opportunity was the lack of an effort to adopt the new paradigm of export-led development. Thankfully, that changed in the subsequent decade.

The 1990s was truly the golden period of trade policy developments when you consider the whole gamut of radical changes in the trade policy regime that were launched at the start of the decade. At the close of the 1980s, the economy was literally in shambles. GDP growth was anaemic, foreign exchange reserves had reached rock bottom, and financing of the BOP deficit was at a dead end. The confluence of an economic and political crisis (collapse of the Ershad regime and the onset of democracy) paved the way for radical reforms.

The economic mess left by the departing regime had to be cleared first to restore the economy's potential for growth and poverty reduction. The WB-IMF stepped in to save the situation with structural adjustment loans and BOP support on the back of wide-ranging trade policy reforms, in addition to measures for restoring internal macroeconomic stability through fiscal conservatism, market orientation, deregulation of investment and privatisation of state-owned enterprises, a la Washington Consensus.

Compared to the previous 20 years, the trade policy changes undertaken could be termed radical indeed, and included (a) sharp reduction and rationalisation of tariffs, (b) significant import liberalisation through removal of bans, quantitative restrictions (QRs) and import licensing (end of the license Raj), (c) move from fixed to flexible exchange rates, and (d) convertibility of the current account.

This time, trade liberalisation during the 1990s was deep and pervasive. In 2001, a seminal World Bank study on the impact of trade liberalisation on growth and poverty (by David Dollar and Art Kraay, titled "Trade, Growth and Poverty" and published in The Economic Journal) listed Bangladesh among the "globalisers" of the developing world, confirming that these globalisers were experiencing rapid growth in incomes and decline in poverty.

In hindsight, we can argue that the WB findings signalled the dawn of a new era of trade openness that fuelled rapid growth and poverty reduction in Bangladesh with the advent of the 21st century. The strategy of export-led growth built on the back of trade liberalising policies had finally taken hold in the policy space. The liberalising reforms of the 1990s, albeit incomplete, generated enough momentum to stimulate export-oriented manufacturing growth, job creation, and poverty reduction for the next two decades.

Average decadal GDP growth began rising by over one percentage point every decade—4.8 percent in FY91-00, 5.9 percent in FY2001-10, and 7.2 percent in FY2011-19. The moderate poverty rate, which was 57 percent in 1990, was nearly halved by 2010 (31.5 percent), and is estimated to be around 20 percent in 2019—a highly effective sign of inclusive growth. These positive developments notwithstanding, a closer look at the tariff developments during the two decades of the 21st century points towards a stalemate in the tariff structure during the latter part.

Unlike the 1990s, the first decade of the 21st century saw a slowdown in tariff reduction and other trade reforms. The reform highlight of this decade was the move from flexible to floating exchange rate (a managed float, actually) launched by Bangladesh Bank in 2004, along with a final elimination by the Ministry of Commerce of all bans/QRs on imports for protection reasons. The latter was done through a modest scheme of tariffication of the last remaining QRs on textile imports. One para-tariff, the infrastructure development surcharge (IDSC) was eliminated and absorbed with custom duties (CD).

But no sooner was this chapter closed, another para-tariff, the regulatory duty (RD) of three percent across the board, emerged in FY2010.

It is fair to say that with that closed the chapter on tariff reforms. RD, which by law has to be renewed every year, has gained a life of its own and it looks unlikely to be abandoned any time soon. As confirmed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its 2019 Trade Policy Review, tariffs and para-tariffs are now the principal instruments of trade policy in Bangladesh.

Recently, the Bangladesh economy has earned praise from analysts across the globe for its export and growth performance, and is on a path to winning the war against poverty; but close to home we find an ominous tendency towards ossification that has gripped the Bangladesh tariff structure. Trade economists have long argued that export performance and tariff protection are not mutually exclusive. Tariffs on import substitute production are indirect subsidies that undermine support to exports and create anti-export bias. The sooner we can come out of this antiquated tariff regime and make our tariff structure reflective of a dynamic export-oriented economy, the better our chance of post-Covid-19 economic recovery, with a bustling export-driven manufacturing sector that creates jobs and income to win the war on poverty. This is exactly the strategy laid out in the Eighth Five Year Plan, recently approved by the Prime Minister and launched by the Bangladesh Planning Commission.

After the 2020 annus horribilis, a terrible year, the Bangladesh economy finds itself at a crossroads. The challenge to revive exports and grow at an average of eight percent over the next five years has never been more daunting as graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status beckons. It would be a fair assessment to suggest that Bangladesh energetically launched first generation trade reforms in the 1990s and is still reaping the benefits of those reforms in terms of export, growth and poverty impacts. But tariff reforms, one critical ingredient of trade policy, still remain largely unfinished, with some ossification evident in recent times. Can the economy achieve its medium-term goals without modernising its tariff structure? As I have argued in many fora and writings, the current tariff regime is a major stumbling block to the realisation of export diversification—a priority development agenda of the government.

As the nation addresses trade facilitation as part of second generation trade reforms, completing the unfinished agenda of the trade and tariff reforms begun in the 1990s and taking them to their natural conclusion should be a national imperative, which will yield rich dividends on the way to Bangladesh becoming an upper middle income country by 2031.

Dr Zaidi Sattar, a former Bangladesh civil servant and World Bank economist, is Chairman at Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI).

Source: The Daily Star

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Denim apparel import of USA declines in Feb. ’21 after showing signs of improvement in Jan. ’21

US denim apparel import remained sluggish in February ’21 after showing signs of improvement in January ’21.

According to Apparel Resources’ analysis of OTEXA data, USA declined by 17.22 per cent in its value-wise denim apparel import in Feb. ’21 over Jan. ’21 to clock US $ 208.45 million.

Volume-wise, the import of denim apparels dropped by 21.23 per cent on M-o-M basis to 2.17 million dozen in Feb. ’21 as compared to 2.75 million dozen in Jan. ’21.

Further, the USA declined in its imports of denim apparels on Y-o-Y basis as well as it noted a fall of 9.80 per cent in values and 4.78 per cent in volumes during Feb. ’21 as compared to Feb. ’20.

China and Bangladesh remain positive in Y-o-Y, while Mexico gets edge over other countries in M-o-M shipment

Of all top 4 denim apparel shippers to USA, Bangladesh and China noted growth in their respective exports on Y-o-Y basis. Mexico and Vietnam could see any positive turnaround.

Bangladesh – the top denim apparel shipper to USA – reported 1.33 per cent growth in Feb. ’21 over Feb. ’20 value-wise and shipped US $ 38.77 million worth of denim garments to USA.

Volume-wise, the Y-o-Y growth was 6.67 per cent and the country shipped 485,662 dozens of denim apparels.

However, Bangladesh declined significantly in its shipment as compared to Jan. ’21. The country noted 31.25 per cent decline in value terms, while the drop noted in volumes was 30.08 per cent.

See below tables to know detailed data of top 4 denim apparel shippers to USA –

Value-wise Denim Apparel Shipment by Top Apparel Shippers to USA


Feb. ’20

Jan. ’21

Feb. ’21

% Change between Feb. ’21 and Feb. ’20

% Change between Feb. ’21

and Jan. ’21































 (Value in US $ million)

Volume-wise Denim Apparel Shipment by Top Apparel Shippers to USA


Feb. ’20

Jan. ’21

Feb. ’21

% Change between Feb. ’21 and Feb. ’20

% Change between Feb. ’21

and Jan. ’21
































(Volume in dozen

Source: Apparel In Online

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BGMEA announces Faruque Hassan its new president

The election board of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) officially declared Faruque Hassan as the president of the leading RMG body.

The election board also confirmed the name of other bearers. They are Syed Nazrul Islam (Chattogram) first vice president, SM Mannan Kochi senior vice president, Shahidullah Azim, Miran Ali, Md Nasiruddin and Khandoker Rafiqul Islam (finance) and Rakibul Alam Chowdhury (Chattogram).

The fresh committee officially took charge today, said Shaidullah Azim, who was elected as vice president in the new committee.

Hassan’s panel Sammilita Parishad took 24 out of 35 posts, while the opposition panel, Forum, got 11 posts.

A total of 1,996 BGMEA member voters –  1,604 from Dhaka and 392 from Chattogram — out of 2,314, cast their votes to elect the board of directors of the BGMEA.

BGMEA that started with only 12 members in the early 1980s presently has around 4,500 members and is being run by a 35-member elected board of directors.

Source: Textile Today

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