ZIMBABWE’S trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, has challenged the local clothing and textile industry to increase value added exports and exceed last year’s US$62.3 million earnings.
In Africa, total exports of clothing and textile in 2019 were US$18.3 billion, according to Trade Map, dominated by Tunisia (US$4.3 billion), Morocco (US$4 billion), Egypt (US$3.2 billion), South Africa (US$1.5 billion, and Mauritius (US$687 million).
ZimTrade said the country has huge potential in clothing and textile exportation.
“For Zimbabwe, the total value in export of clothing and textile in 2019 was just US$62.3 million and concentrated within the regional markets such as South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, and Botswana, according to Trade Map.
“Of this value, exports of cotton amounted to around US$42 million, whilst articles of apparel and clothing accessories, which are not knitted or crocheted were US$12 million,” it said.
ZimTrade said although the nature of export markets is not a challenge, the export figures shows that more needs to be done if the fashion industry is to contribute meaningfully to economic development and national exports.
It said figures from Trade Map suggest that the country is exporting more clothing and textile products that are not value added, which translate to exporting jobs.
“The huge contribution of clothing and textile to national exports of some of African countries is an indication of how they have harnessed the potential by developing crucial value chains that makes it easy to increase output for exports from their economies.
“This is also a result of the realisation that owning the next trending fashion creates a strong narrative for a country, which is an enabler for increased tourism and investment.
“Zimbabwean stakeholders in the fashion industry need to increase exports and actively contribute to national economic development,” said ZimTrade.
It said what is required now is to come up with an inclusive framework that can harness potential in all players within the fashion and clothing value chain, leveraging on the Zimbabwean diaspora as well as addressing current challenges affecting the industry.
ZimTrade is developing capacities of local small and medium enterprises in the clothing sector, with the assistance of partners from the Netherlands-based PUM and SES of Germany.
“These activities have seen some companies improve their production efficiency, output, and quality, which ensures that Zimbabwean products are commensurate with international standards and result in increased confidence and improved export figures.
“There is need to develop capacities in young designers and youth led businesses as they are creative enough to keep up with changing global trends,” said ZimTrade.
There is a realisation among experts that young people in the lock fashion industry are hungry for exports and as such concerted efforts by all stakeholders must be made to nurture start-ups, which could be a remedy to the country’s economic woes .
“Further to these capacity development activities, there is need for stakeholders to engage closely and address challenges that continue to affect the fashion industry,” said ZimTrade.