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Campaigners Push to End Cotton Subsidies
Duty Evasion Scam
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December 1, 2010
The McPete Sez Lingerie Newsletter & Women's
Campaigners Push to End
A "wall of subsidies" paid out by the US and European Union (EU) to their
own farmers is preventing the world's poorest cotton farmers in West Africa from making a living, a new report claims.
According to 'The Great Cotton Stitch-Up' published by the Fairtrade
Foundation, the US and EU have spent $32bn on their cotton farmers over the past nine years.
This, in turn, dampens down cotton prices for West African farmers,
"restricting their ability to trade their way out of poverty and so
perpetuating reliance on aid." Including China and India, a total of $47bn
is said to have been paid in subsidies to cotton farmers since 2001.
With an average GDP per capita of $637, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali
(known as the Cotton-4 or C-4) rely on cotton more than any other commodity for their export revenues.
These countries produce cotton more cheaply than anywhere else - a
competitive advantage that logically should place them in a prime position
to benefit from the world's ever increasing desire for cotton products.
But UK Secretary of State for Trade, Vince Cable, states that the C-4 have
lost a total of $250m each year through the price dampening effect of US and EU subsidies.
Campaigners led by the Fairtrade Foundation are now calling on the US and EU to scrap their cotton subsidies as part of a reform of the EU Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the US Farm Bill, both of which are under review over the next two years.
A coalition of manufacturers, including US textile producers, is urging
the Senate to pass a bill that would give companies the ability to defend
themselves against currency manipulation - with China the most likely
target - before lawmakers adjourn for the year.
The Currency Reform and Fair Trade Act was overwhelmingly approved by the US House of Representatives at the end of September.
"The Fair Currency Coalition believes it is imperative that the Senate
help Main Street America by counteracting currency undervaluation by China
and any other country engaging in this mercantilist practice," a letter to
the Senate said. "The time for action is now."
The Currency Reform and Fair Trade Act would enable US companies to defend
themselves using countervailing duties and anti-dumping law against countries that manipulate their currency.
It is aimed at countries like China, which allegedly aligns its currency
to the US dollar at a below market rate so that its goods are less
expensive on international markets.
But representatives for US apparel and footwear importers believes the
legislation "primes the United States and China for a widening trade war"
and that erecting additional trade barriers stifles US competitiveness in
the global market.
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Duty Evasion Scam
Customs officials in Pakistan have seized five containers of polyester
printed fabrics, poly/cotton sheets and bathrobes worth more than PKR31m (US$362,000) for evading duty payments.
The seizure followed a tip-off to the Directorate General Intelligence &
Investigation about the activities of Al-Fareed Fabrics in Faisalabad and
Pacific Textile Mills in Karachi. The items were being exported to the
United Arab Emirates.
The firms had falsely declared the description, classification, value and
weight of the polyester-based products as velour and cotton/viscose
fabrics on which high duty drawbacks can be claimed. Duty drawbacks offer exporters a refund of import duties on raw materials used.
The firms are said to have defrauded the Customs authorities by PRK733,314, as well as sales tax refunds on packing materials and dyes,
and an R&D subsidy by State bank of Pakistan.
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Andean Trade Pact to Expire
Trade groups representing US retailers, importers and textile makers are
calling on House and Senate leaders to renew the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) before it expires at the end of
The groups want the trade pact to be extended for at least two years, and say swift action is "vitally important" to prevent business disruptions
for the apparel and footwear industry.
Under ATPDEA, which is currently due to expire on December 31, 2010, US apparel imports from Andean countries Ecuador, Colombia and Peru enter the
US duty-free if they use US cotton, yarns, and fabrics.
"The Andean region remains a critical market for US textiles, supporting
tens of thousands of US jobs," the US groups say in a letter sent last
week to Congressional leaders. "These export markets function primarily
because we in turn provide duty free access to the US market for their
textile and apparel products when they incorporate U.S.-made yarns,
fabrics, fibers, and other textile inputs."
Exports of US yarns were up 74% in the first seven months of 2010 compared
with the same period in 2009. And US fabrics have enjoyed nearly 20% year-on-year growth during the same time. But these gains could be at risk
if the Andean program is allowed to lapse.
Signatories to the letter include the American Apparel & Footwear
Association (AAFA), National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), National Retail Federation (NRF), and the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA).
Groups Push For Action
Against Indian Cotton
Textile groups from ten developing countries have added to calls from the
US, EU, Turkey and Mexico for action against the Indian government for
restricting cotton exports and contributing to global shortages and
rocketing prices of the fiber.
Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru are the latest to join a worldwide
coalition that claims India has broken WTO rules and say it must be held to account after its "anti-trade actions on cotton have caused turmoil in
In a joint letter last week, the groups, who between them represent 2.5m
textile and apparel workers in the western hemisphere, urged their
governments to take action.
The letter cites what it says are new statistics claiming the Indian
government is subsidizing its textile and apparel export sector by
restricting exports of cotton.
The groups say there is a 16 cents per lb price difference between the
price that Indian textile and apparel mills pay for their cotton and the
world price of cotton. They also note that the price differential has
increased each time the Indian government has announced new restrictions on the export of cotton.
The groups believe Indian cotton restraints have contributed to an
enormous increase in the price of cotton for non-Indian textile producers
around the globe. Since India began restricting exports of raw cotton in
April, the price of cotton has increased by 126%, from 62 cents per lb to
$1.40 per lb.
In their letter, the groups point out that India's actions have come as
world supply of cotton has tightened amid increasing demand and
disappointing cotton crops in several large producing countries.
As the second largest exporter of cotton, India is enjoying one of its
largest cotton crops in history but has dramatically restricted its
exports over the last six months.
The groups also claim analysis of India cotton production and consumption figures demonstrate that India is withholding between 1.5m and 3.5m bales
of cotton from its export market in order to give its textile and apparel export sector an advantage over other world producers.
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EC Simplifies GSP Rules of
The European Commission (EC) has adopted a regulation that simplifies the rules of origin for products such as clothing which are imported under the
generalized system of preferences (GSP).
The new rules will affect all imports into the European Union (EU) from
January 2011, and should make it easier for developing countries like
Cambodia and Bangladesh to access the EU's preferential trade
In the textiles and clothing sector, the biggest change is that
single-stage processing (manufacture from fabric) will be allowed in many
cases, instead of the two stages of processing (manufacture from yarn)
required by the present rules.
Essentially, this means that most apparel imports from all Least Developed
Countries (LDCs) will be eligible for duty-free access wherever their raw materials originate, including woven fabric from China.
The GSP is a trade arrangement allowing reduced or zero import duties on imports from developing countries; and the rules of origin determine
whether imported goods really do originate in the countries covered by the
Sri Lankan Wage Increase
An upcoming pay rise divides workers in and out of free trade zones
Trade unions representing Sri Lankan garment workers are protesting
against the conditions of a recent wage increase.
Trade unions say a wage increase of LKR500 ($4.50) announced this month is
inadequate and also unfair, because the increase only applies to workers in free trade zones. The wage increase is effective from
January 1, 2011.
"Around 200,000 are working in garment factories inside export processing zones. They get the LKR500 increase. But another 250,000 or so, are in
garment factories outside the zones. They do not get this wage increase," said Chamila Thushari, the
program coordinator of Da Bindu Collective, a member organization of ALaRM a coalition of trade unions and Non
"Also, the wage increase is so small, compared to the cost of living
increases, it is useless.”
Trade unions are asking for a 30% increase in wages for all garment
workers. The current minimum wage of a garment worker is LKR 6,950 ($63) per month.
The JAAF, the garment sector employer representative body, is also unhappy
with the wage increase.
It says wage increases should be left to market forces and should not be
imposed on the industry. Apparel exports were struggling this year as
orders from major Western markets had not fully recovered from recession.
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