28 Apr 2005

Fiji's struggling garment industry suffers more losses

8:12 pm on 28 April 2005

The Fiji garment industry's woes are worsening with losses in exports in the first few months of this year amounting to more than 60 million US dollars.

Radio Legend says the figure has been given by the president of the Textile, Footwear and Clothing Council, Ramesh Solanki.

Mr Solanki says the industry cannot recover these losses because it cannot increase exports to the peak levels of some years ago.

He blames the decline on the loss of Fiji's quota in the United States because of new rules brought in by the World Trade Organisation and the restrictive clauses in the regional trade agreements known as SPARTECA.

Mr Solanki says the only markets to which Fiji can increase exports are Australia and New Zealand but cannot because the rules of origin prohibit the use of high quality, expensive fabrics needed for niche products.

He says fabrics manufactured in Australia are basic, work clothing fabrics not suitable for high quality products.

More than 8,000 garment industry workers have already lost their jobs and the Reserve Bank says Fiji's growth will decline substantially this year because of the loss of garment markets.