Blog: Michelle RussellRwanda gearing up for a slice of sourcing action

Michelle Russell | 24 September 2019

For years now, Ethiopia has garnered the spotlight for its ambitions to become the world's next big destination for textile and fashion production. But another East African country – Rwanda – is also gearing up for a slice of the action, with the country's newest export-led garment factory quickly making up for lost time.

Rwanda might not be top of mind when it comes to apparel exports, but Hong Kong based garments, bags and home textiles manufacturer and exporter C&D Products Group / Pink Mango Rwanda is so impressed with its experience so far that it already has a second factory in the pipeline. The country also has a major role to play in the apparel maker's plans to relocate 80% of its owned production away from China over the next five years – while an expansion into neighbouring Tanzania over the next two years will extend its footprint on the continent even further.

Sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile – a much-discussed potential apparel sourcing hub – still has a long way to go before it can play a more significant role in the supply chain, according to Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware. For example, the lack of a vertical textile and apparel supply chain in SSA makes it challenging to source from the region, especially for large orders.

Egypt, however, is continuing to develop its textile industry with a recent EGP21bn (US$1.2bn) investment, which will include the establishment of what it says is the "world's largest textile factory." According to local press, it is part of wider plans to open four new factories in addition to preparing for the establishment of ten new gins.

In India, a second round of measures have been announced to help stimulate economic growth and potentially boost the country's textile and garment sector and its exports. The 12 steps include a new WTO compatible scheme named Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RodTEP) to reimburse all central and state taxes paid by exporters, export facilitation measures including leveraging technology to reduce turnaround time at ports and airports to an international standard, and an online system for getting Certificates of Origin for goods.

The governments of Mauritius and Madagascar are intensifying their efforts to improve cooperation between the textile and clothing sectors of the two neighbouring Indian Ocean island states. Mauritius officials have stressed to just-style how nine major Mauritian textile and clothing enterprises have set up production units in Madagascar, helping boost the economy of this relatively less developed country.

Argentina's textile and apparel industry expects revenues to fall sharply in 2019 as a growing financial and economic crisis fuels a decline in clothing production and consumption. Slowing factories and weakening retail sales mean the entire industry – which has been shrinking for years – could see a 20% revenue decline, if not more.

Meanwhile, the harsh realities of the global business of textiles and apparel are set out in a new book 'Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes.' Aimed at the general public, the message for industry insiders is clear: clean up your act.

A new study claims to reveal "corporate negligence” and a lack of accountability within the multi-billion social auditing industry – alleging that it instead operates as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) tool to protect brand reputation and profits while aggravating risks to garment workers.

Cambodia has announced that next year's monthly minimum wage for workers in the country's garment and footwear sectors will rise to $190 – an increase of 4.4%. The move, which was revealed by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, adds an extra $8 to the current monthly minimum wage of $182. The minimum wage for garment workers has increased every year since 2014, and is set by a tripartite committee representing employers, unions and the government.

Click here to view a timeline of all the key milestones on US trade policy since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

In other news...Stella McCartney has called for more action on sustainability, Nike’s supply chain gets a speed boost from new DC, Uniqlo and Toray team up on recycled down and fabric, and Next points to price cuts in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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