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TCF Industry Innovation Council of Australia Offers Valuable Insight

Australia has a TCF Industry Innovation Council and the group has produced a number of very interesting reads including its Strategic Roadmap from 2009 – 2014, the Government Program Guide and the Quality Mark, Research and Education Focus at TCF Industries Innovation Council. There’s always plenty to learn and share with our bigger brothers and these well written documents serve to provide education and inspiration for our own efforts from our close neighbors. Cheers Mates!


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Posted on: January 13 at 11:16 am
 
SPARTECA has been extended

As posted on Brisvaani Radio station of Brisbane Fiji – Australia Trade Agreement Extension provides greater potential for Fiji’s garment industry the SPATECA (South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement) agreement has been extended to December 31, 2014. This is a valuable agreement that benefits end-of-the-line factory workers in Fiji and helps social equality given the large percentage of women employees (90%) that are engaged in Fiji’s textile and clothing manufacturing companies. The agreement will provide certain textiles, clothing and footwear goods that are manufactured in including Fiji and other Forum Island Countries to be exported to the Australian and New Zealand markets on a duty free basis.

Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, announced the agreement’s extension recently and noted many of the direct and indirect benefits of the policy. The agreement, which originally was put on force in 1980, was considered a landmark agreement in its inception and with its renewal, the success and flow-through of the policy is certainly validated.


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Posted on: January 3 at 7:12 pm
 
Mark Halabe Interviewed by Fashion Source

Acting as a spokesman on behalf of the TCF Council of Fiji, Board member Mark Halabe was interviewed on the current state of Fiji’s garment manufacturing industry as well probed for some insightful dialogue as to the opportunity that currently is availed to Fiji’s dedicated manufacturers.

Mr. Halabe spoke of the small runs specialty of Fiji and of some of the consistent problems that many Australian importers are facing with Chinese sources. It’s very swaying and it clearly bodes well for Fiji to take advantage of some exceptionally prominent niches where service and quality clearly override cost savings on bulk purchases.

He also delved into the harmonious nature of the TCF Council and that the diversity and common agendas have helped develop a unified consortium where the sharing of information is the operative modality. The article and his interview can can be read in its entirety here.


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Posted on: December 20 at 7:33 pm
 
The European Partnership Agreement and its Opening Opportunities

The EPA is a scheme which is implemented to create a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states (ACP). This agreement is aimed at promoting trade between the two groupings through trade development, sustainable growth and poverty reduction. They are set out to help the ACP countries merge into the world economy and have a piece of the opportunities offered by Globalization.

Industries in Fiji are also involved in the EPA. Properly managed trade can help Fiji’s development by creating employment, reducing average prices, generating income and giving access to a wider range of good- quality products. Fiji and Papua New Guinea signed the interim EPAs with the European Union in 2009. Any company that signs this deal will receive duty free entrance (Bilateral) by EPA participatory countries.

The benefits that the EPA brings to Farmers and Manufacturers are as follows:

1. Access to larger free market including EFTA countries

2. No Quotas, No Duties on exports to the European Union

3. No undue competition

4. No shocks- EPAs will implement in a way that avoids unnecessary shocks.

5. Coverage of services and foreign investment

6. Building regional markets to boost trade between ACP neighbors and regions

7. Wider reforms to strengthen the law and attract local foreign investment.

The EPA is a great opportunity for Fiji manufacturers to access new markets competitively. We encourage all TCF members to look into how you can individually and collectively open up new doors.


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Posted on: December 15 at 11:33 pm
 
Invitations are in the Mail

We’re talking about Emails, that is… And the invitations have been forwarded to thousands of relevant industry stakeholders from all around the Asia Pacific region who will soon be attending the Australian International Sourcing Fair (AISF) on the 22nd -24th of November in Sydney this month.


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Posted on: November 20 at 7:21 pm
 
An Oldie but Real Goodie

This article ‘COVER STORY: RAG’S RE-INVENTION- Garment Industry Here to Stay’ dates back more than a year to late 2010 when Fiji’s TCF industry was just coming out of the 3 year AusAID program and was about to hit the ground running. The ensuing success from the first AISF show was truly unprecedented. While expectations were obviously high and spirits were perhaps even higher going in, the overwhelming and resounding response from the show created an even more unified platform for our group to build from.

The piece is an impressive detailing and compilation of TCF’s history along with highlights of an interview of TCF Council President Kalpesh by Island Business Magazine’s renowned reporter Dionisia Tabureguci. It takes the reader through the early stages of the industry through to its meteoric rise in the 1980′s and peak in 2000 on through to the rapid decline of the early 2000′s and right on up to present day stabilisation with encouraging new growth spurts.

Do take the time to read it… it’s truly a fascinating look into an industry’s exciting history. Here’s a couple of highlights contained in the article:

On the History

“At its peak in 2000, some 150 garment factories were in operation, employing up to 20,000 people and exporting close to F$350 million worth of products to Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe. By then, garment had displaced sugar as Fiji’s main export commodity and had also matched the tourism industry in terms of the number of people it employed. It was, however, a shaky rise to stardom.”

On the AISF Trade Show in Australia

“It was an eye-opener for us and I think all companies that went are now getting enquiries and some are in the process of negotiations with prospective clients,” said Kamlesh Naidu, General Manager of Jack’s Garmets Ltd.”

On the opportunity ahead

“Fiji’s garment manufacturers, on the other hand, have had a long history of relationships with Australian buyers and are able to supply quality niche garments, on time and at a stable price. In fact, according to a key industry player, China’s booming home market is resulting in delayed shipments and reduced quantities into Australia from China, resulting in Australian buyers turning to Fiji where the quality is better and orders can be supplied in a timely manner.”

Enjoy the read and look forward to the exciting next chapter ahead.


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Posted on: November 12 at 10:25 am
 
Mark One Creating Goodwill

Always remaining committed to the community is a core principle of Mr. Mark Halabe, director of Mark One Apparel. With a strong focus on driving forward projects that resonate down to individuals; Mark One is lending its considerable clout to numerous goodwill projects. One such project is replacing the roof of the P.J.Towmey Hospital in Tamavua. Another project is their hosting one of the biggest morning teas for cancer and yet another is hosting a Blood Drive every six months, as Fiji is perennially short on donor blood.

The P.J. Towmey hospital treats various skin diseases, something that is highly prevalent in our tropical climate. With a dilapidated roof, Mark One Apparel decided to help get things moving for the sake of the many sick and unfortunate. This successful goodwill project was accomplished in February this year with a resounding and hardy thanks emanating from the Hospital administration.

The ‘Biggest Morning Tea’ for cancer research and patient support is a very important even in Fiji. The hosts take this very serious and it brings the nation together. Hosted in Fiji in July, there were many participants for this event. Mark One stepped up to be one of the larger hosts of the ‘Biggest’ event. Mark One has served as a host for this event for the past 3 years with each year resulting in more funds raised and more participation. Mr. Halabe mentioned that one small idea which happened to germinate into a big donor funds was where the management, administration and team leaders of Mark One provided a dish to sell during the tea and lunch breaks and with each dollar raised, the company matched that amount. In Fiji we call this Double Up!

Lastly Mark One Apparel also hosts blood drive events every six months, where the management, the administration and the staff donate blood for the major hospitals around Fiji. With such major shortages in Fiji, every drop of blood can truly mean the difference of a life saved.

Mr. Halabe urges all the members of the public to regularly take part in this event and support it.


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Posted on: November 2 at 9:15 am
 
Fashion Designing; a Future Pathway for Fiji

Currently, there is limited fashion designing and fashion–based manufacturing in Fiji. If Mark Halabe, owners of Mark One Apparel has his way, this will change dramatically over the next decade. Mark One Apparel manufactures predominantly corporate attire. For Mr. Halabe, who sees the fashion industry as a vibrant and growing opportunity where he feels Mark One and other Fiji clothing manufacturers are uniquely positioned to support, it’s an opportunity worth investing in.

This type of move could result in massive changes to the industry. It could mean an opportunity to promote entire lines of fashionable clothes from Fiji and more importantly, local fashion designers. In order to make this change the company is in the process of retooling and re-engineering some production lines to be even more ‘Fashion-friendly’. Mr. Halabe has joined in alliance with Ellen Whippy, overseer of the successful Fiji Fashion Week and with Mr. Rob Cromb, a fashion designer from Australia, to initiate the production of trendy women’s fashion from his company as well.

Mr. Halabe also thinks that sourcing qualified lecturers to teach and train local fashion designers here in Fiji will be a major mile stone and is working towards this goal. This will provide locals with high-skilled career option here in Fiji and additionally will serve as a launch pad of recognition for these people both here in Fiji and internationally. The major support will come through programmes offered in conjunction with the Fiji National University and the Training Productivity Authority of Fiji (TPAF).

The ‘future’ of ‘fashion’ in ‘Fiji’ looks to be ‘Fiji Fantastic’!!!


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Posted on: October 27 at 3:36 am
 
Retailing in Fiji – A Market Unto Itself

If you see workers come by regularly on their off hours and eat in the restaurant where they work, you know they serve good food and it’s certainly hygienic. In the same light, many of the major clothing manufacturers in the TCF Council have outlets here in Fiji where they sell clothing especially designed and produced for the local markets. And you can bet that their own workers are lining up to purchase items there as well.

Ranjit Garments distributes a great deal of locally sold garments through its RG Direct Stores. United Apparel has its Casanova retail outlet located right on the manufacturing facility premises. Intimate Apparel sells through its Vua-La chain and Jack’s Garments is a major supplier to one of the nation’s most prominent retailers, its very own sister company, Jack’s of Fiji.

All of these manufacturers see Fiji’s market as an important adjunct to their business. These are not seconds and overruns; these are quality clothing options for a specific Pacific Island market. So if you find yourself in Fiji and you need a great suit, Bula shirt, intimate knick knack for yourself or a special lady, or solid work clothing, contact the TCF Council and we’ll help you load up on what you need to look the part in these parts.


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Posted on: October 15 at 9:31 am
 
Fiji Plays David to China’s Goliath

We talked with Fiji’s former Textiles, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) council president, Mr. Mark Halabe, along with the current TCF council president, Mr. Kalpesh Solanki , about how Fiji is working together to take on the big boys of the manufacturing industry.

Mr. Mark Halabe elaborated at great length on the ‘small volume’ niche that Fiji has in supplying garments to the Australia and New Zealand markets. He went on to demonstrate how his company has successfully re-engineered for shorter runs and more custom orders. He has also constantly strived to improve logistics to deliver the goods in a competitive time frame.

Mr. Solanki echoed Mr. Halabe’s comments and went further to emphasize the entire manufacture base of Fiji needs to optimally gear up and promote itself for overseas niches. With Australia’s minimal wage nearly eighteen times higher then Fiji’s, he feels they could deliver high quality goods into Australia far more competitively then those manufactured locally.

Mr. Solanki then noted that the TCF Council Fiji was recently audited and showed that they have some of the highest scores in worker conditions.

“It’s important to remember that our cost of living is significantly lower then Australia’s, and it’s a great opportunity for the Australian distributors and retailers to take advantage of this”.

Mr. Halabe also elaborated on the EPA (European Partnership Agreement) implications and how they offer access to not just Australia but to a huge number of other international markets and more than hundreds of millions of new end-users. He mentioned about his own company’s shift in local productions that continues to focus on smaller and smaller runs, on maximizing production efficiencies and on increasing its presence in the fashion industry.

All in all, Fiji has uniquely positioned itself in a time where retail stores constantly are looking to carry less and less inventory, while continuing to be a quality provider of cost competitive clothing. For Fiji, when wholesalers and retailers worldwide are seeking cost effective, small order purchases, it’s the perfect storm of economic opportunity for our resilient, innovative and experienced manufacturers.


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Posted on: September 25 at 9:40 am
 
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