just-style authors and correspondents
Jozef De Coster
Articles by Jozef De Coster
The devastating impact that political instability and the loss of trade benefits can have on an apparel manufacturing country is exemplified by Madagascar, the island off the southeast coast of Africa that all but fell off the sourcing radar when it lost its duty-free privileges to the United States at the beginning of 2010. But a change of fortunes in the last two years is now seeing its apparel exports bounce back with a vengeance.
Last year all eyes at Origin Africa were on host country Ethiopia as an emerging sourcing hub for international apparel groups. This year attention switched to the return of Madagascar to the apparel export stage, with the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa bouncing back after the US reinstated its AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) beneficiary status in 2014.
At first glance, Cambodia's garment sector is doing fine. ANZ Bank recently predicted 7.2% GDP growth in 2016, mainly fuelled by rising clothing exports. And just-released data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) points to a 14.7% jump in the country's clothing shipments to US$1.605bn during the first quarter of this year. But dig deeper, and it seems the overall situation of the Cambodian garment industry is less optimistic.
The Foreign Trade Association's inaugural Sustainability Conference has highlighted the need for cooperation and dialogue throughout the supply chain to achieve tangible results and long-lasting improvements in human rights, environment and trade policy. And, as Jozef De Coster reports, it also heard how European retailers are struggling to transition from cheap and fast to sustainable.
With advantages that include the best cotton in the world, thousands of textile and garment factories, low labour costs and duty-free access to key markets in the US, European Union (EU), the Middle-East and Africa, Egypt should have formidable potential. But at the same time it's facing a mountain of problems, including low labour productivity, lack of investments in ginning, spinning and weaving, difficult access to finance, and poor infrastructure.
As a textile and clothing producer, Hungary offers a mix of the traditional and high-tech, ranging from fabric makers supplying the automotive and other advanced industries, to medium-sized CMT-manufacturers (often owned by, or working for, German and other foreign apparel groups) and a number of small fashion brands.
There has been a big buzz around Ethiopia as a potential source of apparel for at least the last five years – yet disappointingly small exports of just US$112m in 2014. But that could finally be set to change, as Jozef De Coster reports from last week’s 'Origin Africa' event in Addis Ababa.
From fast-growing textile hub Mekele to expansion plans by several international groups to expand their production capabilities in Ethiopia, the scale of current and planned investments in the country appears to be accelerating. Jozef De Coster reports from last week’s 'Origin Africa' event in Addis Ababa.
Myanmar’s garment export industry as a whole is developing rapidly. But the battle for growth and added value is heavily weighted against the mostly small local manufacturers who face tough competition from an increasing number of foreign investors with deep pockets and strong networks, writes Jozef De Coster.
Ethiopia may have more trump cards to play than any other sub-Sahara African country when it comes to developing a competitive cotton, textile and garment supply chain, but it still has a rough road ahead. Indeed, Ethiopia's growth as a garment exporter will be slower and more difficult than the government and local textile organisations predict.
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