The Government of Fiji has reassured the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry stakeholders of its support as they are contributors to the Fijian economy.
Acknowledging the role of TCF industry in the Fijian economy while speaking at the Annual General Meeting & Industry Discussion at Textile Clothing & Footwear Council of Fiji, Mr. Shaheen Ali, Permanent secretary for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said “The Fijian Government identifies the TCF industry as an integral contributor towards providing employment to Fijians, currently employing 5,500 workers, the majority being women, and contributing towards growth of the Fijian economy through trade.”
“Over recent years, the industry has rapidly become a critical part of the economic structure of Fiji, exporting garments to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Pacific Island Countries,” he added.
In view of the expiring of the TCF provisions of South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA) scheme at the end of 2014, Mr. Ali reassured the industry stakeholders that the Government will continue its efforts to assist the Fijian TCF industry in its reliance on market access to Australia and New Zealand.
“As most of you will be aware, our Fijian TCF industry is export-oriented and heavily reliant on preferential market access to Australia (and New Zealand) under the original SPARTECA and the SPARTECA TCF Scheme. However, the SPARTECA-TCF scheme will expire at the end of 2014, which will affect duty free Fijian exports to Australia. Government is determined to win an extension of the SPARTECA,” Mr. Ali said.
“Government is committed to working with industry players to identify and overcome these challenges by implementing reforms to adapt to the ever-changing international trading rules.”
Mr. Ali further added that Fiji has the potential to become a leader in the TCF industry in the Pacific and beyond with a focus on quality and targeting niche markets where the industry has (or can develop) a competitive advantage.
Speaking at the event, Textile Clothing & Footwear Council president Kaushik Kumar expressed the council’s appreciation to Government for its support through the marketing grant to the TCF industry.
“We have been receiving Fj$ 100,000 a year under the National Export Strategy grant which has been used very effectively to promote the TCF sector in the overseas markets mainly in Australia, and participating in trade fairs in USA,” Mr Kumar said.
“Advertisements and promotions in industrial related magazines have only been possible because of the funding we have received from Government. The results of our participation and promotional activities have seen an increase in the employment numbers in the industry as well as increase in import figures,” he added.
According to Mr. Kumar, Fiji is the only country in the Pacific that makes garments and it does not have any competitors.