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(#3 / 2018 - 3 April 2018)
Balance of Trade
2016 - HS50-63
In 2016 Ethiopia exported US$94m worth of textiles and apparel to global trade partners
In 2016 Ethiopia imported US$768.3m worth of textiles and apparel from global trade partners
  • a proportion of Ethiopian value chain imports are manufacturing inputs brought in under a rebate of duty. They are then, typically, made-up into garments which are exported.


The Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (ETIDI) has stated that there is no shortage of cotton in Ethiopia. It advised that in the current fiscal year that nearly 60,638 hectares of land has been developed for cotton production by 17,203 small scale farmers and 233 developers; and that over 40 thousand tons of cotton had been harvested. READ HERE >>

The ETIDI spokesperson did not provide any information on the cotton types grown, cotton qualities and the suitability of the cotton for local spinning mills – especially the Ethiopian spinners who may want to supply local weaving/knitting mills whose products ultimately end up in garments that are exported to the US and EU.

A recent (January 2018) US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service report on cotton production in Ethiopia stated that it anticipated that Ethiopia would still have to import around 19,000 tons of cotton lint in the coming season. READ HERE >>

As part of its effort to support its textile sector, the Federal Government of Ethiopia intends to launch the New Cotton Development Strategy (NCDS - 2017-2032). Apparently the strategy aims to position Ethiopia as the top cotton producer in Africa - from its current 10th place. Furthermore the optomistic strategy, apparently, aims to increase the amount of land cultivated with cotton to 250,000 hectares by 2022 (502,000 tons produced), and then to one million hectares by 2032 (2,596,000 tons).
Research has shown that United States' consumers believe that Egyptian cotton is the most recognised cotton brand in the US. The research was commissioned by the Cotton Egypt Association, a non-profit association established in 2005 with support from Egypt’s Ministry of Industry & Foreign Trade; and was undertaken by a US PBM. A sample of 522 US consumers revealed that 86% of those interviewed were unable to name an actual branded product, but those same consumers were able to name one type of cotton: 95% cited Egyptian cotton, and 5% named Pima. Egyptian cotton was also the name most people associated with quality; and consumers indicated that they were prepared to pay a premium for it. READ HERE >>

Egypt has done well to recover from a 2016 scandal that involved an Indian textile conglomerate (Welspun) passing-off cheaper bed sheets as being made with premium Egyptian cotton. This scandal resulted in some major US retailers dumping Welspun product; while it has been reported that almost US$740m was wiped off the value of the company.

After years of declining production, Egyptian cotton is again on the rise. A currency devaluation, new policies to increase yields and improve quality and high farm-gate prices are encouraging farmers to expand cotton acerage and increase production. Under this new economic environment, cotton exports are expected to rise during the coming years, while imports will decrease marginally. The US's Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service expects 2018/19 production to reach 420,000 bales, a near 40% increase over 2017/18. READ HERE >>
The US has announced that Rwanda’s African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) privileges would be suspended in 60 days if it did not reverse steps that it had taken to progressively limit, then ban, the access of US origin worn clothing imports. The US acknowledged that the steps taken by both Tanzania and Uganda were sufficient enough to enable them to continue with AGOA access.

In March 2017 the US’ Secondary Materials & Recycled Textiles (SMART) association filed a petition with the US Administration to initiate an AGOA out-of-cycle eligibility review for Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda’s AGOA regarding their decision to raise customs tariffs on worn clothing imports with a view to phasing in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear.

In 2015 the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State adopted a three-year gradual process to phase-out of the importation of second-hand clothes (and footwear) in order to promote a domestically focused regional textile, apparel and footwear manufacturing industry. It did not take Kenya long to bail from the phase-out process - leaving only Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to defend their AGOA access (in 2016 Burundi was stripped of its AGOA eligibility so it was not included in the AGOA out-of-cycle review process).

The review found that the Rwanda worn clothing restrictions harms the US used clothing industry and is inconsistent with AGOA beneficiary criteria for countries to eliminate barriers to US trade and investment. The suspension will kick in after 60 days – which may not give time for garments orders at Rwandan exporters sufficient time to be completed then shipped then cleared into the US. READ HERE >>


The EAC's attempt to ban the imports of worn clothing was not well thought through. The biggest stumbling block was that they did not realise that they had insufficient domestic/regional textile and apparel capacity to be able to supply a regional market place of 169 million consumers. Its also interesting to see how selective the US approach has been - for other AGOA beneficiary countries have imposed outright bans on worn clothing imports yet the US has done nothing to take away their AGOA access.

Going forward the EAC economies do have options, while they develop internal manufacturing capacity, to tighten controls on worn clothing imports. For example they could require that: all worn garment imports are accompanied by a certificate that confirms that the clothes/shoes are free of disease/pests; that all worn clothes imports must show signs of "appreciable wear" (this is a definition applicable to any imports of worn clothing into the US); and, that clothing brands are satisfied that none of the garments infringe upon their intellectual property rights.
There have been many research reports on the proposed East African ban. For further reading: see the report of the UK based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) READ HERE >>, and the report prepared by the East Africa Trade & Investment Hub (a USAID funded regional economic development project headquartered in Nairobi (Kenya)). READ HERE >> The US' Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA) provides a tabular overview of how some economies treat the import of worn clothing. READ HERE >>
A coalition of seven trade unions is demanding a minimum monthly wage of Maloti 2,000 (about US$169) for all workers in Lesotho. This would, if agreed to, translate into a 47% wage increase for workers engaged in its textile, apparel and footwear manufacturing industry (about 46,000 people). READ HERE >>

In Southern Africa a series of textile and clothing sector national negotiations are expected to kick-off soon. Current minimum hourly wages are:
  • South Africa - for a qualified sewing machinist in an urban area (Cape Town) US$2.36 per hour; and in a non-metro (more rural) area US$1.57 per hour (both excluding other benefits e.g. retirement funding, healthcare financing, etc).
  • Lesotho - for a qualified sewing machinist US$0.63 per hour.
  • Swaziland - for a qualified sewing machinist US$0.73 per hour.
It is not anticipated there will be any minimum wage discussions in Botswana this year. The current minimum wage is about US$0.64 per hour.



The Clean Clothes Campaign’s (CCC) International Office has reported that it has followed-up on the 2013 H&M commitment that workers in their supply chain would be paid a living wage by 2018. According to the CCC there are still hundreds of thousands of workers making H&M products are still receiving poverty wages. READ HERE >>

The CCC stated in its “nudge” letter to H&M: “[Y]our company made a ground-breaking and widely publicized commitment in 2013, giving the workers in your supply chain hope for a better future. You committed to paying your workers a living wage by 2018, based on the rightful judgment that governments are acting too slowly when it comes to increasing minimum wages. As the year 2018 has already begun we are very much looking forward to seeing the commitment fulfilled in the following months.”

Details of H&M’s thinking on a "fair living wage" is well documented in its 2013 "Sustainability Report". READ HERE >> (pg32-5) In this report it outlines that their Fair Living Wage road-map was partially developed on the basis of the Fair Wage Network’s methodology, and in consultation with other stakeholders. H&M claimed that their initiative would initially be focused on its strategic suppliers who all “should have improved pay structures for fair living wages in place by 2018 at the latest (in existing as well as potential future sourcing markets)”.

In H&M's 2017 "Annual Report" the retailer revealed that 227 of its factories now used the Fair Wage methodology compared with 140 in 2016, while 458 factories had been included in social dialogue training, in a total of eight countries, including China, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Its unclear as to whether any plants in Ethiopia were involved in the Fair Wage programme. In Ethiopia H&M has disclosed that nine manufacturing and processing facilities, that employ between 11 609 and 16 000 workers, make products for it. In its 2016 "Sustainability Report" H&M revealed that its Ethiopian manufacturing vendors paid the lowest average monthly wages (US$46 per month) compared to factories in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Guangdong province), India (Bangalore), Indonesia, Myanmar, Turkey and Vietnam READ HERE >> (pg77 - the bar chart is VERY illuminating - it mainly explains Ethiopia's nascent textile and apparel industrial revolution).

H&M also (in its 2016 "Sustainability Report") makes the puzzling claim that in 2016 minimum monthly wages in Ethiopia were US$26 a month and that their vendors paid an average US$44 per month. These are difficult figures to understand. Ethiopia does not have a system of statutory minimum wages (apparently rumour has it that the Ethiopian Investment Commission has been advising investors that this is a "reference wage"); nor does H&M say how the average was determined - would this include the wages of everyone employed at an Ethiopia factory (including that of the factory manager)?

H&M have revealed that they are running a number of other development programmes in Ethiopia, namely:
  • a project to continually identify, address and remediate human rights impacts in their value chain (H&M are working in partnership with Solidaridad and the Ethiopian Cotton Producers Ginners & Exporters Association). [Perhaps this intervention is linked to a November 2014 report that indicated that H&M made product using cotton from areas in Ethiopia that were vulnerable to 'land grabbing'. At the time H&M clarified that it does not support land grabbing as it was a violation of human rights. They further stated that they would require that in the future that their suppliers must ensure that its products do not contain cotton from the Ethiopian Omo Valley region, where there was an increased risk of agricultural land having been subjected to land grabs.
  • an industrial relations and workplace dialogue programme – which, in 2016, involved six factories covering 4,000 workers (a partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), and IF Metall).
In April 2017 a coalition of unions/human/labour rights advocates requested 71 apparel and footwear retailers and brands to sign a transparency pledge that would, if they signed it, require them to reveal core information about the producers that make products for them. The retailers/brands that were approached by the coalition were asked to respond by December 2017.
  • G-Star Raw – full alignment with “Transparency Pledge” - 1 supplier unit in Morocco. SEE
  • John Lewis – full alignment with “Transparency Pledge” – 17 suppliers in Madagascar, Mauritius Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia. SEE
  • New Look (strong corporate links to South Africa via Brait shareholding) – full alignment with "Transparency Pledge” – 15 suppliers in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Madagascar. SEE
  • Next – full alignment with “Transparency Pledge” – 38 suppliers in Egypt, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia. SEE
  • Nike – full alignment with “Transparency Pledge” – 4 suppliers in Egypt and South Africa. SEE
The African producers identified above may include some footwear and fashion accessory manufacturers; as well as external/internal services suppliers (e.g. commission embroidery, laundry, garment screen-printing services, etc).
to be continued in the next edition Monitor …


TO THE US (2017; IN US$)

Ethiopia Exports to the US (2013-17; in US$)
Source: US International Trade Commission



About: Established in 2013, Enterprise Partners (EP) is a development organisation that operates in two broad areas, namely, agro-industry and access to finance. EP aims to create the right environment to support the creation of 45,000 jobs and income opportunities (especially for women and poor households) in Ethiopia. EP is part of a broader development programme – the Private Enterprise Programme Ethiopia (PEPE). PEPE is a seven-year programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by consortium of development companies lead by DAI Inc., which aims to support private sector development by improving firms’ access to finance and addressing market and government failures in identified sectors.

Garment Sector Objectives: EP has initiated, and then managed, a number of development interventions in Ethiopia’s the cotton, textiles and apparel value chain.

Operations: EP only operates in Ethiopia. Its line Ministry is the Ethiopian Federal Government’s Ministry of Industry. It also co-operates with government parastatals, regional administrations, and with the private sector (manufacturers, services' suppliers and apparel brands/retailers).

HQ: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).


Project News:
  • EP has facilitated a workshop which examined the National Ethiopian Cotton Sector Development Strategy. The Strategy has now been submitted to the Ministry of Industry for final approval.
  • in 2016 EP developed a textile and apparel sector human resources intervention for textile/apparel industrialists opening factories in the Hawassa industrial Park. EP is now in the process of upgrading this intervention – “HIPSTER 2.0” will allow for a digital labour market information capture system that can be implemented nationally in other industrial parks.
  • EP is engaging with apparel investors who have shown an interest in investing in Ethiopia; and it is working with the Federal Government of Ethiopia to enhance the "National Apparel Road Map".

Key Reports: EP have made public three documents that underpin their interventions in the textiles and apparel sector. These documents (the "Garment Sector Strategy" (March 2017) SEE DOC. HERE >>; the "Apparel Market Strategy" (April 2017) SEE DOC. HERE >>; and, the "Labour Market Strategy" (March 2017) SEE DOC. HERE >>) contain useful information on the value chain as it exists in Ethiopia; and on the interventions EP has initiated/participates in. The EP work on the Ethiopian cotton sector, "Cotton Market Strategy" (January 2017), can be accessed here. SEE DOC. HERE >>



The Federal Government of Ethiopia has set itself some very ambitious textile-apparel value chain export/growth targets. Its first "Growth & Transformation Plan" (GTP - 2010/11 to 2014/15) the government set a target of US$1bn in exports - yet total export earnings were only US$456m. It also set a target of creating 40,000 job opportunities but only 50% of this target was achieved.

In the second GTP (2015/16 to 2019/20) the value chain is tasked with manufacturing US$2.18bn worth of product and to earn US$779m in export revenues. In terms of employment 174,000 job opportunities are being targeted, and carbon emissions will be reduced by 25%.

More recently the senior government official driving Ethiopia's textile and apparel growth strategy has been quoted as saying that the country is targeting exports worth US$30bn by 2025. This is going to be a huge task - more than likely unachievable. These targets are best contextualised by the 2016 total global textile/apparel/made-up textile exports of Bangladesh of US$34bn, and of Vietnam of about US$29bn.
Mini Profile
Ethiopia's Flagship Textiles & Apparel Industrial Park
The Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP)

Location: approximately 275km south of Addis Ababa.

Cluster Focus: textiles and garment.

Land Area: phase 1 - 130ha.

Sheds: 410,000m/2 of industrial/residential/business space under roof - including 22 sheds of 11,000m/2 each, 12 sheds of 5,500m/2; 3 specialised sheds.

Cost to build: US$250m (China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation took 9 months to construct the park).

Inaugurated: July 2016.

Jobs Created: the actual real target is unknown - many politicians and development projects quote differing figures as to the estimated number jobs that will ultimately be created in Hawassa. When they do provide employment figures they do not advise as to whether the jobs created will also include the Phase 2 expansion; nor whether it will also include indirect jobs created. In the initial phase it is anticipated that in excess of 30,000 workers will be engaged in the Hawassa park itself - still a very significant number.

Eco-Park: the facility has been billed as an “Eco-Park”. It does so with claims of energy and water conservation (e.g. zero discharge as a result of an on-site effluent treatment plant; the maximisation of natural lightning and ventilation; the use of low consumption bulbs; the use of rain water; solar powered LED street lights, and that 50,000 trees will be planted).

Occupancy: apparently the industrial park is now fully occupied. Many important suppliers to H&M and PVH (formerly known as Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation - owns brands such as Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, IZOD and Arrow) are located in the park. Both these multinationals apparel retailers/brands have encouraged some of their manufacturing vendors located elsewhere in the world to set-up in the park. PVH is known to have 10 plants supplying it with product. PVH is known to be a 75% shareholder in one of the park's companies (the other 25% belonging to an Indian owned conglomerate - Arvind Limited).

Hawassa Industrial Park and its Human Resources Scale-Up
Given that the sheer scale of the Hawassa Industrial Park, and the fact that the area virtually had no background in garment manufacture its easy to see that the new investors would have experienced significant difficulties in recruiting their workforces.
To this end the DFID funded EP programme facilitated, in conjunction with the area's regional government and the new industrialists, a innovative programme to provide adequate production staff for the factories. The centralised human resources recruitment programme is known as "HIPSTER" - the Hawassa Industrial Park Sourcing & Training Employees in the Region. The public-private partnership has undertaken to identify, then select, then screen, then grade and then train about 30,000 workers for Hawassa factories over a period of a couple of years.

The programme is centered around the following steps / processes:
  • the Southern Nations, Nationalities, & Peoples' Region (SNNPR) administration's Bureau of Trade & Industry division - facilitates the sourcing and screening of workers. Job applicants are sensitised on the purpose/activities of the Hawassa Industrial Park and on the job prospects. Prospective applicants are then registered and screened. After screening they are either accepted or rejected as suitable job seeker candidates.
  • the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (ETIDI) - then grades suitable applicants by testing them for trainability, dexterity, colour blindness, eyesight and job readiness. Applicants are then placed into a number of different job categories they are best suited for - either i.) sewing, ii.) non-sewing, or iii.) other occupations.
  • the Hawassa Industrial Park Investors' Association - then steps into the actual recruitment and allocation process by defining demand from factories and allocating applicants to factories. The SNNPR communicates to job applicants to show up for work at specified factories. The recruitment process is then completed with factory induction programmes.
  • Private sector trainers - are responsible for developing the curriculum and providing training to recruited job seekers.
By March 2017 HIPSTER had sourced 20,000 job seekers; 4,995 job seekers were screened and graded; 1,489 were recruited by factories; and 1,000 workers had received soft-skills training.

This is a truly innovative programme. Only time will tell if it actually matches factory labour demand with factory ready and trainable workers; and if the recruitment practices lead to more motivated workers which in turn leads to improved productivity and reduced workforce turnover. A number of HIPSTER monitoring / evaluation and related research projects have been initiated - hopefully the "African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor" will be a,ble to cover their results.

This kind of intervenion is something that many other government-private sector partnerships in Africa should exmaine - it does seem much more promising than some of the unimaginative (and sterile) development interventions (often centered on physical training schools) that have been set-up in some African states.
"Final Report: Market Study of Ethiopian Textile & Apparel Sector". Innovision Consulting Private Limited (commissioned by the DFID funded Enterprise Partners / DAI Europe). March 2016. Barking, United Kingdom.
Synopsis: The report initially provides a succinct overview of Ethiopia's textile and apparel manufacturing industry as it existed in about 2015. The study identifies four areas - manufacturing inputs, production level processes, marketing processes, and support level services - where improvement efforts should be focused. The full report can be READ HERE >>.
Looking Beyond the Horizon: A Case Study of PVH’s Commitment to Ethiopia’s Hawassa Industrial Park. Mamo Mihretu, Gabriela Llobet. June 2017. Washington, D.C. The World Bank Group.
Synopsis: Textile and apparel production is seen as an important catalyst for developing countries’ industrialisation. It has played an important role as a springboard for economic development and, due to its low fixed costs and labour-intensive manufacturing, is often a starter industry for countries seeking to industrialize. The story of how the PVH Corp.(PVH) came to lead a group of its top suppliers to build factories and a fabric mill in Ethiopia’s Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) is the study of a strong collaboration between a private company looking to optimize its business model and a government aiming to transform its economy through global strategic repositioning. This case study explains a private investor’s site selection process. It assesses the elements PVH prioritised when deciding to commit to Ethiopia, and specifically to HIP. The case study further assesses the government of Ethiopia’s strategy, level of readiness, interest, and commitment, and sets out some key challenges that lie ahead for this partnership. Full paper can be READ HERE >>.


  • Africa Occupational Safety & Health (A-OSH) - Trade Show - 22-24 May 2018. Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information:
  • Source Africa - Trade Show - 20-21 June 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. For more information:
  • 14th Symposium of the Southern & East Africa Cotton Forum - Workshop - 4-6 July 2018. Harare, Zimbabwe. For more information: SEACF
  • Apparel Sourcing New York - Trade Show - 23-25 July 2018. New York, United States. For more information:
  • Sourcing at Magic - Trade Show - 12-15 August 2018. Las Vegas, United States. For more information:
  • International Textile Manufacturers' Federation (ITMF) - Annual Conference - 7-9 September 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. For more information:
  • Origin Africa – Trade Show - 9-11 September 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. For more information:
  • Apparel Sourcing Paris - Trade Show - 17-20 September 2018. Paris, France. For more information:
  • Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week (ASFW) - Trade Show - 1-4 October 2018. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information:
  • Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference - Annual Conference - 22-24 October 2018. Milan, Italy. For more Information:
  • Destination Africa - Trade Show - 17-19 November 2018. Cairo, Egypt. For more information:
  • ATF Expo - Trade Show - 20-23 November 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. For more information:
  • 77th Plenary Meeting - International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) - Annual Conference - 2-7 December 2018. Abidjan, Ivory Coast. For more information:



Looking for staff? Want to engage a consultant? Have equipment to sell? Do you need 2nd hand machinery? Have a tender? For a limited period the "African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor" will publish (free of charge) select classified advertisements from firms / development organisations active in the Africa's crop to shop value chain. Adverts limited to 50 words / 300 characters (and may include a mini logo).
Labour/environmental compliance auditing firm active in textile/apparel manufacturing industry requires local language to English translators in Swaziland, Lesotho, Madagascar & Mauritius for ad hoc assignments. Candidates preferably based in their capital city. Send English CV to
about Mark Bennett - Editor
"The African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor"
I have almost 30 years' experience working in Africa's cotton, textiles and apparel value chain. Initially I was, for 15 years, a sector trade unionist in South Africa; then, from 2004 onwards, I worked as a development consultant for various Southern / Eastern African governments, and domestic private sectors. In my development activities I have been engaged by private sector foundations, and by DFID and USAID funded contractors. I find it rewarding creating development interventions that help cotton, textiles and apparel stakeholders to better processes, improve productivity, increase sales and add investment. See my full CV at Devex or LinkedIn.

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