TCF industry must focus on marketing & promotion activities
The Textile Clothing and Footwear (TCF) industry is still considered as very significant contributor to Fiji economy. About 5000 workers are employed with export revenues of FJ $100 million annually. The work standards in the industry have improved dramatically over the past decade. However, today it faces some of the most challenging times since the 2000 coup.
Australia and New Zealand are the main export markets for Fiji's TCF industry. The financial crisis facing the world has already had an impact on these economies. All businesses are bracing for the tough times and are holding off decision making. Investment will reduce significantly.
Observing the current scenario, experts say that coming budget must prioritize on job creation and retention.
In an exclusive interview with Fibre2fashion, Mr Kalpesh Solanki, owner of Ranjit Industries, discussed few of the policies Fijian Government should focus on while announcing the budget for the coming year for retaining and creating jobs for benefiting Textile and Clothing Industry.
Mr Kalpesh Solanki told,"Government should create a Think Tank group to establish Productivity Index for the industry. This Productivity Index should be the basis to work out productivity improvement targets, wage increases, etc. Give 8 or 10 year tax free status to existing & new investors subject to minimum jobs created, say 100 people and/or investment level say FJ $500,000.
Allocate funds for the TCF industry to marketing & promotion activities in export markets such as Australia, New Zealand, and USA. Establish Export insurance service underwritten by government. Allocate funds to bring in experts to train & improve human resource development services for the TCF industry.”
While discussing how Fiji's reliance on imports can be reduced, Mr Solanki stated, “Fiji imports too many goods and service that can be grown or produced locally. This list includes textiles and garments as well. An independent study should be undertaken to determine which of the imported items can be grown or produced locally. Based on findings of this study, the government should establish a 'High Priority Import Substitute' list and offer incentives to those who make investments on these items. Incentives can be tax holidays, government support in marketing and business development, etc.”
Mr solanki further shows his concern saying, “New Zealand has been in recession for almost a year now while Australia is predicted to follow suit by Christmas 2008.
“Thousands of jobs in Australia have already been lost in past few months and predictions are that tens of thousands more jobs are expected to be lost within next 3 months. All businesses are bracing for the tough times and are holding off decision making. Investment will reduce significantly.”
Presently consumer demand is severely reduced especially on non-essential goods such as clothing & footwear having a huge impact on department stores and retailers. TCF goods sales in Australia have reduced by almost 9 percent and further reduction is expected. USA imports of TCF goods from China have declined by over 8 percent in past 2 months. As a result, factories in China will have excess capacity which is very likely to be offered to Fiji's clients in Australia & NZ at a discounted rate.