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Fiji and Australia discuss garment trade deal
14
Jul '11
Representatives of Fiji and Australia have started discussions on the issue of renewal of the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement (SPARTECA) Textiles, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) scheme, which is due to expire on December 31, 2011.

The negotiations have begun after an Australian delegation on a fact finding mission visited Fiji a week earlier. Mr. Shaheen Ali, Deputy Secretary (Economics & Trade) is heading the Fiji representatives participating in the deliberations.

Mr. Ali thanked Australia for providing it the market access under the S-TCF scheme as it has led to sustenance of Fiji's garment industry. The S-TCF scheme allows zero-duty access to Australia for TCF products manufactured in Forum Island Countries (FIC).

He said that with some modifications, the present scheme harbours a potential to bring a turn around to the country's garment industry and increase its share in Fiji's GDP and contribute to poverty alleviation.

He added that modifications are necessary as countries from outside the Pacific region having large manufacturing capacities are getting a comparatively better market access into Australia owing to GSP and other trading policies.

He said that both Fiji and Australia feel that the Fiji's TCF sector could be further developed through prolonged affiliation of Fiji under the SPARTECA.

SPARTECA is a non-reciprocal trade deal between Australia and New Zealand and FICs. An objective of SPARTECA is to gradually provide, in favour of FICs, unrestricted and zero-duty access to the Australian and New Zealand markets for as many products as possible.

In 2009, Fiji's TCF industry was granted by Australia a reduction in the Minimum Local Area Content from 35 percent to 25 percent. This increased the type and number of garments that can be exported duty-free to Australia.

The TCF industry in Fiji is vital for reducing poverty and stimulating social equality as 90 percent of the 4,000 direct and 16,000 indirect workers in the industry are women, who, in most cases, are the sole support for their families.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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