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Garment Boost Helps Bring Back Business: Kumar

The change to Developing Country Preference now simplifies the process and system for calculation of qualifying content for the garment industry. The comments were made by Textile, Clothing & Footwear
07 Jan 2015 10:57
Garment Boost Helps Bring Back Business: Kumar

The change to Developing Country Preference now simplifies the process and system for calculation of qualifying content for the garment industry.

The comments were made by Textile, Clothing & Footwear Council president, Kaushik Kumar.

Mr Kumar said the fact that DC Preferences by the Australian Government had included wool products would hopefully trigger business back to Fiji which was lost to Asian competitors.

The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya, announced on Monday the positive development saying Fiji’s textile, clothing and garment industry was set to benefit more.

“The DC Preferences will provide Fijian exports more favourable terms of access into the Australian market than the previous South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement–Textile, Clothing and Footwear (SPARTECA-TFC) Scheme, allowing for easier and simpler qualification requirements for duty free entry,” Mr Koya said.

 

SPARTECA-TCF

Such flexibility was not included in the earlier SPARTECA-TCF Scheme.

And, for the first time, wool products were now included as part of the new flexible rules.

After 13 years of existence, the SPARTECA–TCF Scheme expired on December 31.

The scheme is replaced by the Developing Country (DC) Preferences under the Australian System of Tariff Preferences.

Mr Kumar said: “The previous system of calculating ELAC points was very complicated and time consuming. I am glad we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

“It has taken years of pushing and lobbying to get wool fabrics included as a lot of this business was lost to our Asian competitors.

“The new DC preference is a lot more flexible and we expect more opportunities to come our way.”

The current exports provided by the council stands at 85 per cent to Australia.

The DC preference, Mr Kumar said, would stabilise exports and better retention of business in Fiji.

“DC preference is something new and to be honest we didn’t expect that the previous SPATECA- TCF agreement will be discontinued and replaced with a totally new arrangement under DC.

“In saying that DC preference is much better than SPARTECA-TCF and we need to identify new opportunities that will be available.”

Sun interview:

How does the Council plan to capitalise on this positive move?

The DC preference doesn’t have a major impact on the current business and exports to Australia. However since Developing Country raw materials are now part of the qualifying content, we are able to use high-end, better quality fabrics which were difficult to qualify under SPARTECA or SPARTECA- TCF. This gives manufacturers an opportunity to tap into niche markets servicing high fashion, higher value and better quality garments.

What does this gesture mean for the council?

The TCF Council has made a strong submission and had lobbied quite heavily on improving our market access into Australia. Our Prime Minister, Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama had personally taken up this issue during the Fiji Australia Business Council meeting, our Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon Faiyaz Koya as well as our Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola had also discussed this matter with Ms. Julie Bishop. Without their involvement it would have been impossible to see this outcome.

On behalf on the Council I thank them all. I also commend the assistance of Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Mr Shaheen Ali and his team and the Australian High Commission for all their assistance and working closely with us in coordinating our requests and submissions. Ms. Bishop had assured to discuss Fiji’s request with the relevant Minister and the outcome is here with us today. This is a positive step from the Australian Government in assisting our TCF sector which plays an important role in the economy.

What further support does the council look forward to?

Australia continues to be our major export market, followed by New Zealand. Fiji’s TCF exports makes up for well under 1 per cent of Australia’s TCF imports and therefore we would like to emphasise that with the size of our industry we can never be a threat to Australian industry. We are simply too small. I’m hoping that following Australia’s kind gesture of improved market access, the New Zealand Government will consider the same.

Feedback: ranobab@fijisun.com.fj

 




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