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Zimbabwe's clothing sector has 186% increment potential

by Staff Reporter
19 Dec 2017 at 13:52hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S clothing sector can increase employment by 186% to 20 000 if all sectors in the country could procure locally, Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers' Association chairman Jeremy Youmans has said.

In responses to questions from NewsDay recently, Youmans said the clothing sector currently employs 7 000.

"Technology in clothing is not a major cause of obsolescence and so the age of machinery is not a major issue. The industry could grow from the current 7 000 employees to 20 000 quite quickly if given the right support," he said.

However, Youmans said the clothing industry was seriously being weighed down by an influx of cheap imports and shrinking market, leaving little room for growth.

". . . it is vital that we improve on our policies of local procurement and local content. All sectors, government, parastatals, local municipalities and private sector all need to improve their local procurement to build their own customer bases," he said.

"The local clothing sector is never likely to supply all of the country's clothing, due to brand preference and inability to compete on everything. But generally, most garments can be made in Zimbabwe, and at as good a value as is available internationally."

Youmans said capacity was not the problem in the short term and that most companies had "mothballed" their machinery as they downsized, but could put it back into operation relatively quickly.

But Youmans stressed the recent budget proposal to increase duty on cotton fabrics to 30% plus $2,50 per kg "is a disaster".

He said it appeared that no one did the calculations to check if the 90% duty on raw materials was an effective rate.

"This would lead to an increase in the cost of production of a garment of about 50%-60%, rendered local manufacturer as totally uncompetitive. We hope that common sense will prevail and this proposal not be implemented," he said.

Despite these challenges, the industry remains resolute that things will improve in 2018.

"We expect there to be significant growth although that is based on the support measures being correctly implemented, including the Clothing Manufacturers Rebate which needs reforming to allow full access to all companies, particularly the SMEs," Youmans said.

"We are very excited about the opportunity the new government provides to do things differently and do what we should have done a long time ago, now. We hope that the new government realises the value and the huge opportunity the clothing sector represents."

He said many developing countries have used the clothing sector as a driver of economic growth and "we hope our new government will give us the full support to enable us to realise exactly that".


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