TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Ethiopian textile, garment and leather manufacturers to visit USA

Wednesday, 02 July 2003

Source: Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa)

The Ethio-American Trade and Investment Council (EATIC) with the support of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington, DC, is organizing manufacturing orientation visit (OV) to the USA for Ethiopian textile, garment and leather manufacturers.

The purpose of the visit, which will take place from next August 11 to August 24, would be to introduce Ethiopian textile garment and leather manufacturers to the business practices of the same industries in the United States in order to increase the capacity of Ethiopians to trade with United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and also aims to introduce a new soaring market for textile, garment and leather products and services to U.S Manufacturers under AGOA.

The proposed delegation would include eight well-established private and public textile, garment, and leather manufacturers and the delegation will be led by Girma Birru, Minister of Trade and Industry. Tadesse Haile, Minister of State in the Ministry of Trade and Industry and US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Aurelia E. Brazil, will also join the delegation and would likely visit sites in Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Clemson, South Carolina; New York, New York; and Washington, DC.

According to Ato Gezahgen Kebede, President and co-founder of Ethio-American Trade and Investment Council "the OV itinerary is designed to give the delegates a step-by-step understanding of the entire US apparel market in a controlled environment.

Ato Gezahgen Kebede

"First an overview of the new model of the global apparel community is presented, including regulatory and trade issues; next an overview of state-of-the art apparel manufacturing processes from raw fiber to finished goods; then an in-depth study of today's apparel manufacturing process with all of its elements, including CAD assisted pre-production, demand activated manufacturing, theory of constraints, flexible manufacturing and supply chain management and finally, the ability to discuss any open issues with experts on the shop floor," Gezahgen Kebede told Addis Tribune.

"This project, as outlined, constitutes a significant step in the development of a critical mass of high growth-oriented, internationally competitive exporting firms in the textile and garment sector, focusing on the American and European markets. The American market alone constitutes in excess of 280 billion dollars in annual sales. The initiative is further expected to benefit from the various favorable market opportunities available for Ethiopian manufactured garments under AGOA" the president said.

"There is a rich history of textile and garment production in many of the African nations. However, the concepts of mass production and supply chain management are still foreign to most of the current enterprises. In order to succeed in today's global marketplace, the Ethiopian manufacturer must be able to consistently deliver the key elements of price, quality, delivery and service and in addition, must be able to produce at a capacity that draws the attention of today's retailers," the president added.

"There is a critical need for an accelerated program to intersect future apparel plant owners to the diverse set of management skills that are specific to the mass production of garments. This program gives them the opportunity."

"Properly structured, the program will introduce participants to state-of-the-art manufacturing and supply chain processes and bring them in direct contact with marketing and financial institutions, as well as the enablers of supporting technologies. This knowledge base will become the core of an expanding base of successful apparel manufacturers in Ethiopia. Their success, in turn, will create and sustain the momentum required for other entrepreneurs to replicate their efforts and to be equally successful in their endeavors," Gezahgne added.

"A successful apparel-manufacturing program in Ethiopia will have an immediate and positive effect on programs for the alleviation of poverty. Apparel manufacturing plants are not extremely capital intensive, have a relatively short start-up curve and employ a great number of operators. Through the export of product to liberalized markets, the country will benefit from an influx of foreign currency. Due to the low initial capital investments, it is a perfect model for the privatization of industry and once a solid base of apparel manufacturing has been established, it becomes very attractive to foreign investment," the president added.

In addition, a meeting will be held with suppliers of the key areas of manufacturing raw materials, machinery and equipment, systems and software, as well as financial institution and marketing experts.

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