The clothing and textile industry is weighed down by cheap sub-standard fabrics that are continuing to flood the local market despite a raft of measures to protect local players, industry officials have said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
But despite legislation banning the importation of second-hand clothing and import restrictions imposed by the government, industry officials said the practice was still rife.
“We are faced by issues of forex and cheapsub-standard fabrics are still flooding the local market,” Zimbabwe Textile Manufacturers’ Association secretary-general, Raymond Huni, told NewsDay.
He said due to these challenges, industry performed below expected production targets in 2017.
The government, in 2015, introduced measures such as manufacturers’ rebate of duty on critical inputs imported by approved textile manufacturers to support local industry.
This rebate covers spare parts, yarn and unbleached fabric, among others.
Furthermore, the government removed blankets from the open general import licence for a period of 24 months.
Poly-knitted fabric is currently imported in semi-processed form, hence, undergoes very limited local value addition before transformation into a blanket, which competes with locally manufactured blankets.
The government increased customs duty on poly-knitted fabric from 10% to 40% plus $2,50 per kg.
The government also banned imports of the second-hand clothes.
Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association chairman, Jeremy Youmans said the sector was hamstrung by the inability to access raw materials.
Youmans 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,” he said.
“Even within the range which is available, there are problems with supply and quality. So we are reliant on imported raw materials.”
Industry officials also revealed that they were struggling to get allocations from the banks, even though the clothing manufacturers were supposed to be treated as priority number one under the central bank guidelines.
In the outlook, Youmans expects significant growth in 2018 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 SME’s.”
Huni said the Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development ministry was working hard for the textile industry to grow.
“We still have hope that with all the support from the government and other players the textile industry will grow,” he said.