The new Developing Countries (DC) Preference implemented by the Australian Government started on 1st January this eases the way for duty free entry to Australian market. Under this new system, it allows Fijian TCF manufacturers and exporters to source raw materials including wool products from more cost effective sources outside the region such as China, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Vietnam and include it in the calculation of local content and then convert these into finished garments for duty free export into Australia.
The new system comes following Fiji's request to Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for an improvement to the previous SPARTECA-TCF scheme.
FIJI has a small but vibrant textile, clothing and footwear industry that provides employment to about 6000 workers and generates exports of more than $100million, said TCF Council president Kaushik Kumar.
Australia was Fiji's largest export market for the TCF sector followed by New Zealand. The relatively small TCF sector provides no threat to the Australian industry.
Fijiâ€™s TCF products make up for less than 1 percent of Australia's TCF imports. They would like to see continued support from Australia for Fiji.
Kaushik Kumar is also hoping that the New Zealand Government will follow Australia's kind gesture so that they can also see improved market access into New Zealand which is their second largest export market for TCF products.
Meanwhile, Fiji needs to take advantage of the opportunities made available by this new DC Scheme. The industry needs to act now to be able to realize the benefits, in terms, of creation of new employment, and work towards a highly skilled industry.
The DC Scheme allows for new opportunities for the Fijian industries, especially in the field of garment supply that previously was not available. New business will be brought into Fiji; hence, they will have n opportunity of increasing jobs in the coming 12 months.
Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that there is potential for further expansion of exports and investment in the industry, with the new and more favourable market access conditions in 2015.
Fiji's clothing and textile industry is hoping to boost its 55 million US dollars worth of exports to Australia with the start of improved access to the Australian market this year.
To achieve this target, the Fijian Government will work with the TCF Council and the industry players to look at ways at improving skills and providing training opportunities for the workers, as the new areas will require specialized skills.
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