Government is determined to win an extension of the SPARTECA Textiles Clothing and Footwear scheme which expires this year.
This was highlighted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali during the Fiji Textiles Clothing and Footwear Council annual general meeting at the Fiji Club yesterday.
Government identified the industry as an integral contributor towards providing employment to Fijians, hence the importance of securing preferential access to our neighbouring markets was prudent.
Mr Ali said: “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 –TCF Scheme along with improvements to the current complex and restrictive rules of origin requirements.”
Meanwhile, Mr Ali said as exports to Australia were becoming more challenging under the current rules for sourcing raw materials, accessing other markets could also be looked into.
“Larger suppliers such as Bangladesh and China are given flexible and generous rules, thus better access. This is a basic issue of fairness. All we are asking for is a level playing field.”
He urged TCF members to encourage small start ups given today’s challenging export requirements.
“Such assistance is needed now more than ever before. The new requirements of our international markets has made it much more difficult for smaller operators to survive in the industry.
“Now is the time for the industry’s big players to open up to allow the smaller players to join the exporters league.
“Mentoring small and medium businesses will not cut into your bottom line, it will simply allow Fiji as a nation to take more complete advantage of all the opportunities out there in the export market.”
He also discussed how Government had the endorsed the provisional application of the Interim EPA to ensure continued duty-free access to the EU market and key benefits of branding under the Fijian Made-Buy Fijian Campaign.
“This is the time for you to be part of the revolution in Fiji – created by the forward-thinking, expansionist growth policies of the Bainimarama Government,” he added.
Re-elected president, Kaushik Kumar said together with executives, the council will continue to grow the industry.
This is by way of increasing employment and increasing exports.
Mr Kumar said: “The industry does have a future. We will start to work closely with local fashion designers, assist them with the manufacturing requirements so that it can flourish as well.”
(Source: Fiji Sun)