Quota Phase-Out a Major WTO Issue
The World Trade Organization (WTO) met informally in early August to consider a request by eight developing countries for an emergency WTO meeting at which the impact of the textile quota phase-out would be formally addressed.
The Global Alliance for Fair Textile Trade (GAFTT), says the early August meeting signaled a shift at WTO, namely that for the first time, governments from major developing countries are demanding that the WTO take notice of the potentially devastating impact the phase-out will have on local economies.
Concerned countries include Bangladesh, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the Dominican Republic.
The removal of quotas would amount to a massive transfer of wealth and jobs in the developing world over the next few years.
According to press reports, WTO Director General Supachi recognized that the impact of the quota phase-out was indeed a major issue in need of in-depth examination. However, without a consensus for an emergency meeting, consideration of the quota issue was delayed until an already scheduled meeting on Oct. 1, 2004.
GAFTT represents more than 98 trade groups from 51 countries that support fair trade.
Australian Wool Futures Desk Closes
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) announced Aug. 6, 2004, that Macquarie Bank will quit the business of wool futures and put the service up for tender.
"Industry sources believe the decision comes due to a lack of support from growers for forward contracting their wool," reported ABC.
The service, which started around 1996, offered pricing framework to brokers and traders who in turn offered forward contracts to growers.
Analysis of the closure indicates that the wool industry may prefer to sell when it has the product in hand as opposed to managing the risk associated with locking in prices when they are at attractive levels.
Peter Thomas, executive director of the bank?s agriculture division, says he doesn?t blame wool growers for their lack of support for futures.
"All industries are slow to adopt risk management practices, you know, whether that be wool, or whether that be grain or metals, or any other industry. I don?t think wool is any different from any other commodity," he said.
Online Wool Auction Shutdown
The wool auction industry is offline for the foreseeable future. The Woolnet online auction system was shut down July 31 due to lack of patronage, reports Computerworld.
The site had been the subject of criticism by wool exporters since its launch in 1999. More specifically, the Wool Exporters Council said the site had been designed and implemented without adequate consultation from potential users and had not been approached as a project in a commercial manner.
The site was also criticized for being designed more around the interests of sellers than those of purchasers, and for its lack of standardization of wool descriptions for exporters. The electronic debit and credit systems also were seen as awkward.
However, there is still hope for the future of online wool auctions: Other parties are exploring the service as a commercial venture.
Exporter Wins A$1.8m in Wool Swap Scam
An Australian Federal Court judge has awarded wool exporter BWK Elders a payment of A$1.8 million after it filed a claim against Westgate Wool for falsely repacking and rebranding wools.
The claim was launched by Elders in July 2001 after Italian wool processor Marzotto complained that a delivery of wool was broader than accompanying test certificates showed.
The wool was part of a larger batch bought by Elders on the basis of samples displayed by Westgate Wool. A search of Westgate?s Footscray premises discovered the company was repacking and rebranding wools with stencils purporting to be grower-classed wools.
Westgate has since been liquidated, and its three directors have filed for bankruptcy.
IWTO Wool Award Deadline Extended
The International Wool Textile Organization?s (IWTO), has extended its 2005 World Wool Awards deadline to Oct. 31, 2004.
Textile students, trainees and young professionals worldwide are invited to register in the categories of Fashion & Design; Marketing & Promotion; and Concept, Innovation & Extension.
Among the prizes granted to the winners of the three categories are free participation in the 2005 IWTO Annual Wool Congress in Australia; traineeship in a wool industry company in a wool-growing or wool-producing country; and one-year international exposure via the IWTO Web site.
Additional details and the application are available at http://www.iwto.org/Projects/wwa.htmon the World Wide Web.
The World Wool Award program supports education in the textile sectors and increases awareness of the unique properties of wool and wool-blend products around the world.
Peacoat Contract Awarded
The Defense Logistics Agency announced in mid August that Sterlingwear of Boston, Inc., has been awarded a contract to produce Navy peacoats.
Sterlingwear?s proposal was selected from amongst five received by the Defense Supply Center.
The $22 million contract carries a completion date of Jan. 28, 2006.
"Tariffs Must Go"
"The elimination of the tariff-rate quota on all wool imported into China is an essential part of any free-trade agreement between China and Australia."
That was the message conveyed by Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Dr. Len Stephens during the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Conference held the week of Aug. 16 in Sydney.
Australian raw wool and wool tops imported into China currently incur tariffs of 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Kiwi Wool Sold in Melbourne
The first lots of New Zealand wool were sold in Australian auction rooms the last week of August. Just over 1,000 bales of mostly fine wool were offered to buyers in Melbourne.
"It was the finer New Zealand wools that caught the attention of the buyers, with two bales measuring 15.3 microns fetching 2,480 cents a kg," reported the Australian Broadcasting Corp.