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South Africa: Exports to US reached Record Levels in 2004

At just under $6-billion, 2004 was another record year for the value of exports from South Africa to the US, the South African Chamber of Business (Sacob) reported last week.Sacob said the 21% year-on-year growth in the value of exports was primarily due to excellent increases in exports of precious metals and stones, and iron and steel products.“The above two product groups accounted for 56% of the total value of exports,” Sacob said in a statement.Platinum and diamonds accounted for 97% of precious metals and stones exports while...

07 March 2005

Kenya: Report Cites Rampant Rights Abuse At Work Place

A US report shows that Kenyan firms continue to violate workers' rights, contrary to the law.The report on human rights released by the State department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, points a particularly accusing finger at firms within the Export Processing Zones (EPZs). The Government, says the report, voices support for union freedom, but is unable to enforce the law fully, as some employees are wrongfully dismissed because they join unions.Although the law provides that all workers be free to join unions of their...

03 March 2005

CEMAC Countries Establish Framework for Trade With US

Countries in the CEMAC zone have drawn up national plans that would enable them increase their agricultural exports to the United States under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA. The CEMAC zone countries drew up the plans during a three-day "Public/Private Sector Forum on SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues) and Trade" organised by the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA.   The plans are related to Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues under AGOA.During the seminar that held from February 22-24, participants...

03 March 2005

AGOA Can Make Up for Defunct ATC Fabrics Pact

Recent press coverage has focused on the consequences for developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly COMESA countries, with the end of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) formerly referred to as the Multi-fiber Agreement (MFA) on January 1, 2005.The post ATC world poses definite challenges for COMESA countries and other Sub-Saharan African countries, but the situation is far from being dire or hopeless. Any producer willing to undertake measures to improve the productivity of its competitively priced workers should be...

03 March 2005

Zambians Urged to Make Use of AGOA

The Zambian government has expressed worry at the continued failure by local manufacturers to exploit favourable export trade provisions under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Davies Chilipamushi said yesterday that despite Government opening up marketing opportunities, the volume of trade had continued to stagnate.He said the trade balance had now tilted against Zambia because of the poor response by producers and exporters to exploit market opportunities.He said...

25 February 2005

Namibia: Ramatex Empties Capital's Coffers

The Electricity Department of the Windhoek Municipality overspent its budget by N$9,2 million, with close to half of the money spent on sustaining operations at the Ramatex Textile Factory.Wednesday evening's City Council meeting was informed by the Electricity Department that the City of Windhoek spent N$1,8 million to provide subsidised electricity to Ramatex.Another N$2,5 million was pumped into the operations of the textile factory, but the Electricity Department did not specify what it was for.This means that more than N$4,3 million, or...

25 February 2005

AGOA : Proposals To Boost Trade

The Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) public-private sector forum, which started in Yaounde last Tuesday, ended yesterday with recommendations on boosting trade between the sub-region and the USA.In opening the forum, United States ambassador, Niels Marquardt highlighted the expanding commercial ties between the United States and African countries. The recently renewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) promotes increased trade between Sub-Saharan African countries and the United States, through duty-free access...

25 February 2005

Lesotho's economy curbed by textile exodus

Growth in Lesotho's economy slowed towards the end of 2004, as Asian clothing factories left the poverty-stricken mountain kingdom, after global textile quota changes, Finance Minister Timothy Thahane said yesterday. In a budget speech to parliament, Thahane said gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by about 3,4% in 2004, with a significant down-turn in the last six months of the year as some Chinese and Taiwanese-owned factories closed. He gave no comparative figures or estimate for 2005, but in the middle of last year, he predicted the...

17 February 2005

Rag Trade in Southern Africa in Dire Need of a Mending Job

Never before has an international trade agreement, or rather the expiry of an agreement, caused such uproar globally among stakeholders as has been the case with the agreement on textiles and clothing (ATC). This WTO agreement, which is binding on all WTO member states and which had been in place since 1995 after replacing the decades-old multifibre agreement, provided the framework for a structured removal of trade-restricting quotas on textiles and garments over 10 years. Having been heavily back-loaded, the final (and by far the largest)...

16 February 2005

Fairy Tale Ends for Textile Exporters

The African textile and clothing industry's near fairy tale of jobs and investments growing year after year is ending badly, turning into a cautionary fable of the challenges of global trade.Thousands of jobs have already been lost across the continent as investors dismantle factories built to take advantage of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).More than 22 000 people lost their textile factory jobs between June last year and January in Lesotho because the country could not compete in a quota-free market, said Lesotho...

16 February 2005

South Africa: Hope Stirs Over Textile Sector Crisis

Last week's meeting between representatives of government, labour and clothing and textile industries has revived hopes of protecting the troubled industries from a surge of cheap imports from China and other east Asian countries.Textile Federation of SA executive director Brian Brink said this week that talks were on track and that he was optimistic about their progress. According to the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), the industry has shed about 30 000 jobs in the last two years.A task team consisting of...

09 February 2005

Southern Africa: Time to Tailor an Export Boom

The clothing and textile industry in the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) has seen significant developments in the past four years. For many developing countries, including those in Sacu, the industry has been central to the development of their manufacturing sectors.The sector provides low-cost job creation, absorbs relatively low skills, and often employs women. Hence, from a poverty-reduction and development perspective, the clothing and textile industry is important.Clothing production, especially, has become a very mobile industry....

08 February 2005

Kenya Bags Sh16b From Textile Exports to U.S.

Kenya's textile exports to the US have earned the country Sh16 billion.Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, further reveals that since 2000 when the Agoa programme started, 35 new garment factories have been set up.In a speech read by Assistant minister Petkay Miriti, Kituyi told a visiting US Black Chamber of Commerce delegation that in 2004, Agoa-related investment had risen to US$17.1 million.The touring group represents Sh800 billion worth of African-American investments.Mrs Kay Debow, is leading the team that include...

08 February 2005

Namibia: Govt says it can handle 'Ramatex'

Government says it is capable of resolving all labour issues with Malaysian textile factory Ramatex, as international pressure mounts for the country to take action to improve the working conditions of thousands of workers.The Ministry of Trade and Industry yesterday called a press conference to confirm that it has stepped in to facilitate talks between the Ramatex Textile Factory and the Namibia Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau) on issues of labour relations and productivity at the factories on the western outskirts of Windhoek. "It...

08 February 2005

Namibia: Ramatex Labour Talks On Course

Although there are some divergent views on labour conditions at Ramatex, the government says the company and the representative labour union are competent enough to resolve their differences.The government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has been chairing consultative meetings since last Friday between the two parties on labour relations, including labour productivity and the competitiveness of Ramatex. Andrew Ndishishi, permanent secretary for MTI told the press yesterday the two parties have expressed willingness to work...

08 February 2005

South Africa: Crisis in Textile Sector prompts MPs to act

Cape Town — Parliament’s trade and industry committee is to intervene in the crisis affecting the country’s clothing and textile industries by holding public hearings at which stakeholders will air their views and seek solutions. The sectors are suffering from a deluge of cheap Chinese imports, and parties from across the political spectrum have expressed concern about the huge job losses that have resulted. Currently, 40% of all fabric imports, 60% of textile imports and 86% of clothing imports come from China.The Democratic Alliance...

07 February 2005

Namibia: Giant Textile Firm Agrees to Improve Workers' Conditions

The management at Malaysian textile giant Ramatex has finally agreed to improve the treatment of its 6,000-strong workforce after closed-door discussions at the weekend with the Namibian government and organised labour."It transpired that there are some divergent views on issues pertaining to labour conditions at Ramatex Namibia," Andrew Ndishishi, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry said at a joint media briefing on Monday.Ndishishi said those issues would now be resolved "within the framework of the law and agreements...

07 February 2005

Namibia: Ramatex in World of Trouble

A number of major international garment buyers are calling for action against the Ramatex Textile Factory in Windhoek, as pressure mounts on the Malaysian outfit to "clean up its act".In the last two weeks the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) has written not only to President Sam Nujoma and the Ministers of Trade and Industry and Labour, but to US stores Sears, Kmart, ShopKo, OshKosh B'Gosh Inc and Children's Place. Ramatex is under fire over its continued violations of the country's labour law, and its...

07 February 2005

Uganda: More Investors Still Needed in Textiles

Apparels Tri-Star chief Velupillai Kananathan has said more investors are still needed in the textile industry to enable Uganda fully exploit the huge American market under AGOA.Kananathan was recently speaking during a tour of the Bugolobi-based factory by a Los Angeles trade delegation."The textile industry in Uganda is still under-exploited. This company and a few others are not enough. We need as many industries of a kind as possible to be able to take full advantage of the wider American market, to employ more people, increase the...

07 February 2005

East Africa: AGOA Trade Grows, But Slowdown Ahead

The African Growth and Opportunity Act is continuing to fuel expansion of Kenya's textile and clothing industry while also encouraging investments in this and other sectors in Tanzania and Uganda, according to a new US government report.Kenya's exports to the US under Agoa's duty-free terms grew rapidly in the first six months of 2004, the most recent period measured in the report by the US International Trade Commission. Kenya sold $132 million worth of goods to the American market from January to June last year. The corresponding figure...

07 February 2005

US-Africa Business Summit: Agoa Entry Opportunity

The United States-Africa business summit, which attracts African and American private and public sector representatives, offers African and American businessmen and women, first-rate networking opportunities while at the same time providing participants with up-to-date information on practical business issues and specific policy matters confronting the US private sector in the African marketplace.The 2005 summit, which is expected to be the largest event of its kind in the United States, strives to increase US investment through out Africa...

03 February 2005

South Africa: Call to Improve Textile Incentives

Johannesburg - The ailing local textile and clothing industry has urged the department of trade and industry to modify an export incentive scheme to help manufacturers pay off interest on loans owed to government-owned finance agencies such as the Industrial Development Corporation.The incentive scheme in question is the duty credit certificate scheme (DCCS), which is modelled on the highly successful motor industry development programme (MIDP). It operates by giving local firms duty credit certificates for exporting. The certificates are...

02 February 2005

Southern Africa: Clothing and Textile Industries Need a Rethink, say Economists

Johannesburg - Southern African clothing and textile industries need to restrategise if they are to compete in a quota-free global market after the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) expired last month, economists told IRIN."They should market their products regionally, availing the benefits from tariff-free zones created by the Southern African Customs Union, and those being negotiated by the Southern African Development Community," said Eckart Naumann, an economist and associate of the non-profit Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa.Helena...

02 February 2005

Zambia Battles to Benefit from AGOA

Zambia has remained one of the countries that has benefited the least from the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) with exports that have remained meagre and mostly indirect.The direct trade was largely in the form of yarn exported to countries that make clothing for the United States of America (USA) market. According to statistics, total trade between sub-Saharan Africa and the USA in 2002 amounted to US$ 24 billion of which $18 billion were USA imports from Africa.However, only a small portion of this huge amount came to Zambia as money...

31 January 2005

Kenya Could Lose AGOA Benefits

Kenya may be barred from exporting textile products to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in three years unless it revives the cotton industry.Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Titus Ruhiu said at the weekend that the Act stipulates that only textile products made from locally produced raw material would be allowed into the US market by 2008.Currently, some industrialists have been relying on imported thread and cotton as Kenya does not have enough raw material following the...

31 January 2005

Swaziland: Huge Job Losses Feared in Garment Industry

The Swazi government estimates that a third of all garment industry jobs will be lost by mid-year due to the crisis facing textile firms. "The textile industry created 45,000 jobs in 2001 and 2003. Fifteen thousand jobs will be lost from last year to June this year [2005]," Enterprise and Employment Minister Lutfo Dlamini told a meeting of the Swaziland Textile Exporters Association last week. Robert Maxwell of the textile exporters association said none of the 10 major textile companies in the country, which are largely Taiwanese-owned, had...

31 January 2005

South Africa: Textile Top Dogs 'Their Own Worst Enemy'

Durban - Independent clothing manufacturers and suppliers this week accused the local textile industry of being its own worst enemy, claiming that poor quality, service and high prices left much to be desired.Arthur Limbouris, a director of Quiksilver, said many of the small and medium converters had begun importing from China when local manufacturers turned their focus to the export market at the time the rand weakened and the US's Africa Growth and Opportunity Act offered tremendous incentives."The net result was that small and medium...

30 January 2005

Asian Textile Houses flee Lesotho after Quotas End

Asian-owned textile firms are fleeing Lesotho after the end of a global quota agreement left the impoverished southern African state unable to compete in the US with cheaper Chinese exports, unions say.Massive reform is needed if the remaining industry, which makes T-shirts and jeans for US chains like Gap and Timberland and employs thousands, is not to disappear entirely from Lesotho, they say."In the last quarter of last year ... six factories closed down, drastically increasing the number of unemployed people," Bahlakoana Lebakae, deputy...

28 January 2005

Lesotho:Efforts to Reopen Textile Factories Underway

At least one of the six clothing and textile factories in Lesotho which closed down in December 2004, is expected to reopen early next month, a senior government official told IRIN this week.About 7,000 clothing and textile workers' jobs were under a cloud when the factories, some of them believed to be facing "cash-flow problems", failed to reopen early this year."We are also trying to help at least another two factories - in the form of export incentives - to reopen next month as well," said David Rantekoa, permanent secretary for trade...

28 January 2005

Namibia: NAFAU Seeks Govt Help to Resolve Labour Issues At Ramatex Factory

The Namibian Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau) has requested Government to facilitate a meeting with Malaysian textile factory, Ramatex, to iron out longstanding labour issues.Nafau General Secretary Kiros Sakarias said yesterday that it was "high time" the issues were raised at a common forum.He claimed the factory continued to be in breach of the country's labour law as well as agreements entered into with the factory."It is not fair [for us] to allow the situation to go on unabated and then claim to represent the workers," Sakarias...

27 January 2005

End of WTO Rag Treaty Rips into Poor

A few years ago, the tiny kingdom of Lesotho appeared to have a lot on offer for investors: cheap labour, generous tax incentives and proximity to the regional powerhouse, South Africa.Textile manufacturers certainly seemed to like what they saw.Taiwanese entrepreneurs started arriving in Lesotho in 2000. By investing in the country, they were also able to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). This US programme was set up to allow duty-free access to the American market for a wide selection of exports from...

26 January 2005

SA Textile Industry 'In Need of Rescue'

Government should urgently devise a rescue package to pull the textile industry out of its job-shedding crisis, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said yesterday.DA spokesmen Mark Lowe and Enyinna Nkem-Abonta said such a package should include assistance for enterprises compelled to move into more competitive niche markets as well as reskilling programmes for employees affected.The crisis has been caused by the influx of cheap Chinese imports and the strong rand, which undermine the local industry's ability to compete in domestic and...

25 January 2005

Southern Africa: Textile Industries in Turmoil

A few years ago, the tiny kingdom of Lesotho appeared to have a lot on offer for investors: cheap labour, generous tax incentives and proximity to the regional powerhouse, South Africa.Textile manufacturers certainly seemed to like what they saw.Taiwanese entrepreneurs started arriving in Lesotho in 2000. By investing in the country, they were also able to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This U.S. programme was set up to allow duty-free access to the American market for a wide selection of exports from...

24 January 2005

Sierra Leone: Country Gets Tractor Assembly Factory

Trade and Industry Minister, Dr. Kadie Sesay revealed last Friday told Concord Times that government has finalized arrangements with a Chinese company to undertake the assembling of tractors for agricultural development in the country."We've completed an agreement with a Chinese company for the assembling of tractors for agriculture and very soon, we would start assembling tractors in this country," Dr. Sesay said, adding that other Chinese companies have undertaken great work in transforming the National Workshop into an industrial...

24 January 2005

South Africa: Textiles Task Team Revived

Durban - The government task team that aims to address the problems threatening to destroy the textile and clothing industries has been revived and will meet on February 1 after five dormant months. The task team, which was appointed by former minister of trade and industry Alec Erwin, only met three times between May and August last year. The textile industry has lost 30 000 jobs over the past two years.Brian Brink, the chief executive of the SA Textile Federation, yesterday welcomed the resumption of meetings. "It is unfortunate that some...

21 January 2005

Business Report Shows Increased U.S.- Africa Trade

Trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa increased appreciably in 2003, partly as a result of benefits offered under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), according to a report by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), "U.S. Trade and Investment with Sub- Saharan Africa."U.S. imports from sub-Saharan African countries eligible for African Growth and Opportunity Act benefits increased 36.3 percent to $14 billion in 2003. The largest share came from Nigeria, reflecting the rise in AGOA imports from U.S. purchases...

21 January 2005

Swaziland: Kingdom's Fragile Economy Under Threat

Swaziland's economy faces a serious challenge now that it has to compete with Asian giants like China for a share of clothing and textile exports to the United States.The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) elimination of quotas for clothing and textile exports to the US on 1 January 2005, means Swaziland's burgeoning garment industry is under threat.Union leaders told IRIN that already one foreign-owned factory had relocated its business, while two others had closed for the December holiday period but had yet to reopen, as their export order...

19 January 2005

Chinese Exports Threaten to Destroy Textile Manufacturing Industries Worldwide

When China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2003, various safeguards were imposed on Beijing: any member of the WTO is allowed to limit textile shipments from China to 7.5 percent for a year, or 6 percent for wool products. Member countries can apply to renew these measures on an annual basis until 2008, when the China safeguards fall away. Normal safeguards can still be invoked, but the onus of proof will lie on the country that believes its industry and economy are being damaged. Turkey last week invoked these safeguards...

19 January 2005

South AFrica: Exports to the US 'Surge'

Johannesburg - An analysis of South Africa's trade with the US in November 2004 by the South African Chamber of Business (Sacob) showed a 61.1% year-on-year (y/y) surge in exports to $526.6m. The November 2004 total is 11.8% below the record $597.168m reached in June 2004, but is still nevertheless the sixth highest. Exports for the first 11 months are up 19.61% y/y to $5.342bn and 39.5% above the first 11 months of 2002, despite a 15% strengthening against the dollar in 2004 compared with 2003 and a 39% gain compared with 2002's average....

18 January 2005

Kenya: Agoa Focus Shifts to Agro Products

With Kenya's clothing exports to the United States facing enormous competitive challenges, efforts to increase trade between the two countries are starting to focus on other products covered by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).Particular attention is being given to the agricultural sector. Its largely untapped potential is being touted by Kenyan ambassador Leonard Ngaithe, who says that Kenyan smallholders can gain a much larger US market share for their coffee, tea, flowers and pyrethrum. But Kenyan farmers need greater...

17 January 2005

Lesotho: New Trade Regime Threatens Economy

About 7,000 clothing and textile workers face a bleak year after three factories in Lesotho failed to reopen after the festive season.The impact of the closures on the tiny mountain kingdom, one of the least developed countries in the world, will be significant.Deputy general-secretary of the Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union, B. Shaw Lebakae, told IRIN that the end of quotas for cheap imports to the United States from Asian countries would cause more foreign factory owners, originally from Asia, to reconsider the location of their...

13 January 2005

Lesotho: 6 Textile Factories Shutting Down

Maseru - Six textile factories have closed and their foreign owners fled Lesotho, leaving some 6 650 workers jobless in the small mountain kingdom in southern Africa, the Factory Worker's Union said on Wednesday. The union's secretary-general, Billy Macaefa, blamed the closures on the January 1 end of worldwide textile quotas that limited competition from cheap Asian exports to the United States and European Union. "We understand that some ... were complaining that the South African rand was strong against the U.S. dollar, and they were...

12 January 2005

Zambia: Quality Products Key to AGOA, SMEs Told

There is need for small business enterprises to mass-produce quality goods if they are to access the Africa Gross Opportunity Act (AGOA) market, Small Scale Enterprise Development Board (SEDB) acting director, David Chewe, has said.In an interview in Lusaka at the weekend, Mr Chewe said there was potential market for small-scale enterprise products such as garments, tie-and-dye, flowers and other horticultural products in the AGOA market.He called on the government to facilitate an enabling environment for SMEs to produce for export to AGOA...

10 January 2005

Namibia: Govt Not Worried About Lifting of Textile Quotas

A senior Namibian government official has played down the potential effect the lifting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) textile quota could have on Namibia's fledging industry, as several other developing countries brace themselves for massive job losses.All quotas on textile imports were lifted by WTO countries, including the European Union (EU) on January 1, which effectively means that cheap clothing from rich and powerful nations will now flood the United States - developing countries' main market - and manufacturers from the poorer...

07 January 2005

Zambia to Attend 'Fancy Food Show'

Zambia is among the countries in the Sub-Saharan region which have been invited to participate in the 'Fancy Food Show' in the United States under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).AGOA desk manager for Zambia, Moses Simemba confirmed in an interview yesterday that selected companies in the Sub-Saharan region including companies in Zambia would participate in the show in Chicago in May. Mr Simemba said the desk had identified two companies in Zambia that would attend the show."The two companies will be informed on their participation...

04 January 2005

WTO: Africa Hit Hard as Global Textiles Market Opens

African textile producers are expected to be the hardest hit when rich countries end a curb on clothing imports from developing nations from Saturday, forcing Africa to compete with larger low-cost producers, analysts say.Many African countries say the end of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which for 40 years has guaranteed their textile exports duty-free, quota-free access to western markets, could spell a free-for-all rather than free trade.Analysts say it will force countries like Mauritius, Madagascar,...

03 January 2005

Uganda: Sh325m to Boost Textile Trade

The United States Department of Education and Cultural Affairs has released $187,000 (sh325m) to promote business between US and Ugandan textile firms.According to Dr. Maggie Kigozi, Uganda Investment Authority's (UIA) executive director, the funds, released through UGA International Outreach, will create opportunities for business, which will translate into economic growth and more jobs."The project is an important manifestation of the African Growth and Opportunities Act of 2000, which provides market access for 38 sub-Saharan African...

31 December 2004

Ivory Coast Loses AGOA Eligibility

A central component of this Administration's broad commitment to trade liberalization has been to advance hope, opportunity, and prosperity in both developed and developing countries by reducing barriers to trade and investment. In this regard, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a key pillar of the Administration's policy to spur economic development, alleviate poverty, and encourage trade in sub-Saharan Africa.On December 21, President Bush determined that the following 36 countries continue to be eligible for economic and...

23 December 2004

Kenya: Hard Times Ahead For Producers

Midnight of December 31, could spell doom for Kenyan textile exporters to the United States as the World Trade Organisation ends Multi-Fibre Agreement, consequently allowing China to export textiles to the US quota-free.The MFA was established in the 1970s to give some protection to the textile industries of industrialised countries facing competition from countries with lower manufacturing costs. Since 1995, the WTO has been gradually phasing out quotas to bring trading agreements governing textiles in line with global free trade...

21 December 2004

New Year Threat to Kenya's Textile Industry

The Kenyan textile sector could begin to experience a slow-motion disaster starting January 1, or, then again, it may suffer only moderate damage.Either way, the New Year promises nothing positive for an industry that has been briskly expanding under the impetus of the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). Agoa has been responsible for the creation of an estimated 30,000 jobs in Kenya during the past three years. And now many of these workers are facing an uncertain future. The Agoa initiative, launched in 2000, allows duty-free...

20 December 2004