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African Textile Industry Looks to EU, US for Help

Published date:
Friday, 29 April 2005

Faced with factory closures and job cuts, African textile players said on Wednesday that they hoped action to limit China's textile exports would give them time to develop their industry.

Both the US and EU are looking into limiting Chinese textile imports, which have surged since the end on January 1 of a global quota system that also helped Africa's textile sector grow rapidly thanks to greater access to key US and EU markets.

Many of the factories were set up by Asian companies to take advantage of those trade breaks, but the end of the multifibre arrangement eliminated the advantage of setting up in Africa.

"We are dealing with an industry that is in dire straits right now, and if solutions are not found quickly the patient might die on the table," said Anthony Carroll, the managing director of business advisers Manchester Trade.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, textile and apparel factories are closing at an alarming rate. They were set up to take advantage of preferential duty- and quota-free access to US markets under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Now that quotas are ending, they are relocating back to Asia.

After joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001, China agreed to let nations restrict imports of clothing and textiles if a sudden surge in shipments threatened to disrupt their markets.

The provision allows countries to limit the rise in Chinese imports to 7.5 percent above the previous year's quantity, but it has not yet come into force.

The EU's executive was expected to give the go-ahead late yesterday for a probe into the surge in Chinese textile imports, opening the way for possible curbs within 150 days.

"We hope that the safeguard measures will succeed and give us some more years to organise ourselves and cope with the competition," said a managing director of a leading Kenyan exporter of T-shirts to the US.

Regularly updated trade statistics on include (Click to follow the links):

  • All Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Overview

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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