Morocco’s clothing and textile industry association is optimistic about growth in the country’s apparel sector in the year ahead, with fast fashion sales to Europe driving expansion.

Mohamed Tazi, general director of Morocco’s clothing and textile industry association AMITH (Association Marocaine des Industries du Textile et de l’Habillement) told just-style he is satisfied with the sector’s production and exports.

He said 2018 has been a favourable year for overseas apparel and textile sales, highlighting the latest export data published by the country’s Foreign Exchange Office (FEO – Office des Changes). It cited a year-on-year increase in the 11 months to November, with sales of MAD35.8bn (US$3.7bn), compared to MAD34.4bn (US$3.6bn). Made-up clothing exports registered an increase of 2.5%, knitwear 4.5% and shoes 0.9%, according to the data.

“We have achieved more than we expected since the launch of a strategy of textile industrial acceleration [in 2014 – it remains in force until 2020], which has yielded tangible and effective results, benefiting well-structured and export-oriented players,” Tazi said.

AMITH argues that the outlook for 2019 is also positive. This is good news for a textile and clothing sector with more than 1,600 manufacturers, with a production capacity of more than one billion pieces per year. The textile and clothing industry is also a major employer in the country, with more than 160,000 employees, according to AMITH, and accounts 24% of Moroccan manufacturing exports.

Morocco’s clothing sector has particularly prospered because of fast fashion sales, notably to nearby Spain. According to the World Bank, Morocco exported US$1.8bn worth of clothing and textiles to Spain in 2016 – around half its total export value – and Tazi said the Moroccan industry would continue to follow this approach in 2019. “We want to invest more in fast fashion, which is a winning choice to promote our exports and collaboration with worldwide brands. Our aim is to move from being a clothes provider to a broader solutions provider for these brands.”

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Morocco has also been selling well to France, exporting US$747m worth of textile and clothing products to this country in 2016. AMITH wants to see the Moroccan industry export more to northern European markets, and “empower our position…mainly in Scandinavian countries, in addition to Germany,” said Tazi.

As for the UK, AMITH is concerned that past efforts to boost sales could be undermined by economic weaknesses caused by Britain’s plans to leave the European Union (EU). That said: “We are working hard to reposition again there,” he told just-style.

A key concern remains how to compete with Morocco’s two key Europe near-shoring competitors, Tunisia and Turkey. “The two competitors have activated the currency lever to gain competitiveness in export. The Turkish lira lost 30% of its value between May 2017 and April 2018. The Tunisian dinar has lost nearly 13% of its value over the same period,” noted the AMITH general director.

To boost the Moroccan sector’s efficiency this coming year, AMITH intends to set up training and mentoring services to boost Moroccan textile company efficiency and performance, while growing skills within the national workforce. Tazi also highlighted planned targeted support for the denim sectors, with Swiss and Swedish development aid being spent on developing this niche. AMITH also wants to continue long-standing efforts to encourage Moroccan retailers and brands to source clothing and textiles locally.