The clothing sector in Zimbabwe says it witnessed “an increase” in exports in 2017 based on better capacity utilisation and the need to generate own forex for raw material imports, an official has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association chairperson, Jeremy Youmans, told NewsDay in emailed responses, that even though the year 2017 was difficult for the sector, it managed to increase exports figures.
“… there has been an increase in exports with more companies looking to export based on better capacity utilisation and the need to generate own forex to pay for the raw materials we have to import,” Youmans said.
“We do not have the final figures yet, but the industry has grown during the year by between 500 to 1 000 employees,” he said.
Youmans said the single biggest factor affecting the sector was access to competitive raw materials. He said most raw materials have to be imported as only a small portion of their inputs were manufactured locally.
“This is particularly true of fabric, with only a small range of 100% cotton fabrics being available in certain constructions, certain finishes and certain colours. For example, denim, which is 100% cotton, is not made here, nor is 100% shirting fabric for formal shirts. Even within the range which is available, there are problems with supply and quality,” he said.
Youmans said the industry was still struggling to get foreign currency allocations from the banks even though the clothing manufacturers were supposed to be treated as a priority under Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe guidelines.
“This makes sense as the clothing industry is labour intensive and our forward looking focus needs to be on creating jobs and maximising value addition within the country. Clothing offers one of the highest levels of value addition of all sectors,”