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Cheap Asian Imports Crippling Zimbabwe Textile Industry

At its peak, the clothing manufacturing industry employed 35,000 but now only boasts a small complement of 6,800 workers. (File Photo)
Zimbabwe is losing millions of dollars annually due to the importation of cheap clothes into the country, parliament heard Tuesday with players in the industry calling for urgent government measures to curb imports they say are also evading duty, prejudicing the treasury.

Players in the clothing industry told parliament’s Industry and Commerce portfolio committee they are facing unfair competition from cheap imports from China and Dubai, adding 90 percent of these shipments are coming into the country duty-free.

As a result, the Zimbabwean clothing industry says it is failing to compete raising the need for the government to protect them.

Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association chairman, Jeremey Youmans, said most of the imports are not paying duty due to under invoicing in quantities and value, abuse of trade agreements and corruption, among other reasons.

He said Zimbabwe is realizing only a fraction of the $120 million it is supposed to get in duty revenue from such imports.

Youmans said the industry can compete fairly if those clothes imports pay duty and correct government levies.

He said the industry, which is currently producing 25 percent of the country’s demand, could increase production to 75 percent with enough support from the government.
Youmans said the industry strongly supports the Buy Zimbabwe Campaign, adding the culture of importing instead of local sourcing is hurting industry in general in the country.

Besides protecting the industry, Youmans said government must provide a $2 million facility to enhance productivity in the industry as well as a $5 million facility for distressed companies to source capital equipment and raw materials at competitive prices.

At its peak, the clothing manufacturing industry employed 35,000 but now only boasts a small complement of 6,800 workers.

The Zimbabwe Textiles Manufacturers’ Association also said they are facing serious competition from cheap imports and are calling on the government to protection them.

Association secretary general, Raymond Huni, told the committee that many companies have closed down since 2000, adding more would close if there is no immediate intervention from the government.

Committee chairman Ray Kaukonde said his committee will work with the government and industry to find solutions to problems affecting the cotton industry.