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Govt gears up to regain lost glory of garment industry
Aug '08
The once flourishing Fijian garment industry, is presently on the verge of collapse. The situation has become a matter of concern for the state authorities.

The Government is trying hard and putting in all efforts to help gain its previous glory. Interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, in a recent meeting with Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau said that the revival of the garment sector would broaden country's export base, which had been lost in past years due lack of attention in this segment.

According to Mr Chaudhary, authorities have paid heed to exports of traditional commodities like timber and gold and aloofness was shown for garment sector for all these years. Now the time has come to rejuvinate this, one of the growing industry in the world, so that, foreign exchange earnings of the country can shoot up.

In an exclusive interview with fibre2fashion, a representative from the National Planning Office said, “The textile, footwear, clothing is the second largest industry in Fiji, employing some 8000 locals, and most of them are women. So the decline of the industry will severely affect the middle and low income earners, who largely depend on the garment industry for their livelihood. The declining exports will contribute to a narrowing of the export base of Fiji.”

In order to uplift the crumbling textile industry, the Government is taking steps for the revival of the garment industry. In this regard, the National Planning Office representative divulged, “The current initiative by the Government is to develop a sense of partnership with the private sector through joint ventures is a clear indication of their seriousness in pursuing the development of the industry.

“Further Government will continue lobbying for trade concessions and more favourable Rules of Origin from Australian and the US Government. However, it must also be realized that trade concessions are being phased out due to WTO compatible requirement. Industry players must also take responsibility for upgrading their production efficiency, so that they are able to compete internationally.”

Discussing about the investment part, the representative informed, it is necessary that the Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB) continue to attract investors to the country, that have adequate resources, and knowledge to contribute positively to the whole industry through the spillovers.

The textile, clothing and footwear (TFC) industry has been declining in Fiji over recent year and concessional markets access arrangement under SPARTECA and the SPARTECA (TFC provision) scheme (S-TFC) play a major role in the industry. SPARTCA is a non-reciprocal trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand and Forum Island countries (FICs), one of the objectives of which is to achieve progressively, in favour of FICs, duty free and unrestricted access to the markets of Australia and New Zealand for as wide range of products as possible.The S-TFC, scheme which facilitates duty free access in Australia for textiles, clothing and footwear products manufactured in Forum Island Countries, was due to expire on December 31, 2004. It has now been extended until December 31, 2011.

Fiji doesn't produce raw material. The country basically imports products like woven fabric- yarn of combed wool, unbleached woven cotton fabric, knitted or crocheted terry fabric, woven fabric of metal thread, non-woven special yarns and synthetic woven fabric both bleached and unbleached from Australia. Most of these materials are re-exported to Australia as made-up garments.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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