Clothing and textile industry sees marginal growth in exports

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TINASHE MAKICHI

The clothing and textile industry recorded a marginal increase in exports to US$ 9 million for the period between February and April 2019 from $8, 7 million of the same period in 2018.

This marginal growth -0.1% – according to ZimTrade was driven by growth in the exports of woven fabrics of cotton, cotton yarn, tarpaulins, waterproof footwear and babies’ garments.

According to figures availed by the trade facilitation agency during the period under review, exports in the clothing and textiles sector have been on an upward trajectory.

However, compared to 2018, between February and March, there was a decrease of 27 percent and 28 percent respectively. Value of exports for February decreased to US$2,2million in 2019 from US$ 2,9 million in 2018

March also recorded a decrease from US$ 3.8 million to US$ 2,7million. In April 2019, there was a 108 percent increase in exports from US$2 million to US$4,1 million.

Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers Association president Jeremy Youmans who is also managing director at Paramount Garments told Business Times that accessing foreign currency on the interbank remains a challenge but the floating of the exchange rate had provided an advantage to local products against imports.

“The floating of the exchange rate now means we can compete against imports, pound for pound on pricing, unlike in the past where our biggest challenge has been uncompetitiveness.  Once we get to the point where we are able to get forex from the interbank, then we are good to go,” said Youmans.

According to the association, the clothing sector can significantly improve with only about $5 million investment into capital equipment and raw materials and there is a possibility of growth in the sector if more focus is put on local procurement from Government, private sector and consumers.

The textile industry is currently operating at around 15 percent capacity. The textile industry, which is the sister industry also faces the same challenges as the clothing sector but requires a greater amount of investment.

ZCMA has been on a drive to encourage more appetite for local procurement to drive growth in spite of the current challenging environment.

The local clothing industry has potential to create more than 5000 only if Government speeds up its re-engagement efforts with international markets.