According to a press release, 21 participants representing 15 international brands and sourcing companies attended the meeting. The Buyers Forum agreed to collectively work towards improving working conditions in the factories that they work with and influence their supply chains through policy and advocacy and enterprise improvement programmes to promote sector growth through better compliance initiatives.
“Policy dialogue on better labour governance, compliance with national labour laws and international labour standards, advisory and training services to improve working conditions for workers in the Pakistani Textile Value Chain were prioritised by the forum as key activities to be implemented in future years”, the press release stated.
Rick Slettenhaar of the Netherlands Embassy, representing the conveners of the Pakistan Buyers Forum, complimented the participants on the progress made and urged the Forum to focus increasing its footprint in 2016 to attain concrete results.
“Key features of the event included a way forward presented by the Buyers for 2016 and a detailed discussion on the three working groups constituted to support policy advocacy and outreach, enterprise improvement and communications. The Communication group also shared progress made in giving shape to the forum’s website, developed in collaboration with Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH). The website is planned to be made operational by end of March”, the press release.
GIZ (German Development Agency) representative Romina Kochius, during a briefing session with the Government, diplomatic development partners and other international agencies, delivered a presentation on the key outcomes of the project on the Implementation of Social Standards in Textile Sector in Punjab. She shared that the success of the project is in the social dialogue approach through which the workers and employers jointly work towards issues of workplace compliance which has ultimately reduced industrial conflicts and increased overall efficiency and productivity.
Caroline Bates, representing Labour standards in global supply chains: A programme for action in Asia and the garment sector, briefed the participants about the Garment Sector Stakeholders Forum (GSSF) jointly facilitated by the ILO and GIZ. She explained that the GSSF provides a platform to stakeholders to generate debate on issues prevailing in the sector including legislative and institutional reforms, enforcement and implementation mechanisms and recommendations to address them.
The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Ministries of Textiles and Commerce signalled their continued commitment to make the textile sector in Pakistan sustainable.
Deputy Secretary of Ministry of OPHRD Iftikhar Amjad updated the BF meeting participants that that the Ministry is hosting the Asian Living Wage Conference (ALWC) which will be held from 25-26 May 2016 and will draw participation from eight countries in the region including representation from Government, employers and workers as well as industry representatives in these textile producing countries. Brands from European Union and North America are also invited to take part in the Conference.
He also updated the forum on the labour reform agenda that the Federal Ministry is taking forward which will include improving regulatory environment, institutional capacity building and workplace improvement programmes. The Government of Pakistan, Employers Federation of Pakistan and Pakistan Workers Federation had also formulated the country’s third Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) covering the period 2016-2020 which focuses on four priority areas including Promoting Decent Work in the Rural Economy, Promoting Job Creation for Youth and Vulnerable Groups, Strengthening ILS Compliance through Social Dialogue and Extending Social Protection Floors.
Wajeeha, Section Officer, Research, Development, Advisory Cell at the Ministry of Textiles apprised that in collaboration with Trade Development Authority Pakistan, the Ministry is arranging a TEXPO exclusively for textile products from 7-10 April 2016 in Karachi which will be an open forum for the Pakistani manufacturers and producers to exhibit their products and directly interact with the foreign investors. She also encouraged the members of the buyers’ forum to participate and add value to the Expo, the released stated.
Fasih Ahmed, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Commerce highlighted that despite financial crisis, the textile sector recorded increased exports to the EU market in the 2015 fiscal year with total earnings increased from US$ 6.21 billion during 2013 to US$ 7.54 billion in 2014. This represents an increase of 21%.