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NEWS & RESEARCH FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT
(#13 / 2018 - 12 June 2018)
www.africantextilesandapparel.com
Tanzania’s garment exports to the US in the period Jan-Apr 18 were worth US$13.2m (US$11.25m in 2017)
Tanzania’s exports of garments made with man-made fibers fabrics to the US in the period Jan-Apr 18 were worth US$7.95m (US$7.88m in 2017)
Tanzania’s exports of garments made with cotton rich fabrics to the US in the period Jan-Apr 18 were worth US$5.06m (US$3.37m in 2017)
 
NEWS
RWANDA - GOVERNMENT TO PAY US IMPORT DUTIES ON GARMENT EXPORTS, 11 June 2018
To ensure Rwandan garment exporters are not negatively affected by the suspension of duty-free access to the United States (US) market under the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Rwanda government has decided to take over the resultant tax (US customs duty) obligations for a period of a year. This follows the decison by the American government in late March 2018 to suspend the application of duty-free treatment of Rwandan clothing products in terms of the AGOA arrangement. READ HERE >>


LESOTHO – MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES, 5 June 2018
A formal announcement of an increase to Lesotho’s existing minimum wages is expected in late June or early July 2018. It is now rumored that minimum wages in the country would be increased by an across the board 7%. It is anticipated that the increase will be gazetted with retrospective effect to 1 April 2018 – almost 3 months after the due date for the increase.

According to the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics the country’s inflation rate for February 2018 (the latest figure available) was 5.2%. SEE HERE >>

The current minimum wage for a Basotho textile and apparel industry general worker (with more than 12 months continuous service with the same employer) is M1,372 (US$105.83) per month; while the minimum monthly wage for a qualified sewing machinist (with more than 12 months continuous service with the same employer) is M1,456 (US$112.31). Lesotho’s textile and apparel manufacturing industry directly employs approximately 43,000 people.

Early in 2018 employers and trade unions active in Lesotho’s textile, apparel and footwear industry first sat down to discuss the annual minimum wage increment. They did so as part of a process that aimed to submit a recommendation to the Lesotho Wages Advisory Board who in turn was, after deliberation, expected to advise the Lesotho Minister of Labour & Employment of how much minimum wages would be adjusted by. Employers and unions were unable to reach agreement.
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Comment
The Lesotho minimum wage increase should have come into effect on 1 April 2018. As I have indicated in a previous edition of this newsletter it is strange that authorities have taken so long to still not formally reveal an increase. The deadline set to announce an increase should have been end February 2018. This would have enabled manufacturers to effectively cost orders – knowing what your wages are is important for costing purposes given that wages are such a significant component of the price of a garment.

Lesotho trade unions must also partly shoulder the blame for an announcement being made so late. If I was a Lesotho unionist (in a past life I was a trade unionist – some friends still lable me “Bolshevik”) I would have used the delay in announcing an increase as an opportunity to mobilise union members (and non-members) to have got the Lesotho labour minister to have set an increase some time ago - for I would know that this would be a winnable campaign and would set a positive platform for increasing union membership … and a larger, more active and mobilised, membership would be a great asset to win other issues.


ETHIOPIA – UNDER VALUED FABRICS, 9 June 2018
A group of small-scale textile manufacturers have voiced their concerns against the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA) over “exaggerated customs duties” levied on the imports of raw materials. According to a representative for about 150 textile manufacturers the ERCA has decided to collect what it claimed to be unpaid customs duties following a Post Clearance Audit campaign. Apparently the duties had accrued from three years previously. According to the small firms the ERCA has regarded the invoice prices they have submitted at the time (on the basis of which the duties were calculated) to be “under-invoiced.” READ MORE >>


TANZANIA – GOVERNMENT FED-UP WITH CHINESE INVESTOR, 4 June 2018
The Tanzania government has expressed its dissatisfaction over a joint investment with shareholders of the Tanzania China-Friendships Co. Ltd (a.k.a. - Urafiki). The Tanzania Prime Minister made the remark when addressing staff during his tour of the factory. The factory is a joint investment project between the Tanzania government, and the Changzhou state owned Textile Assets operations. In terms of the joint venture the Chinese enterprise owns 51% of Urafiki. The Tanzanian government has recently announced that it was planning to increase its shareholding in the factory from the current 49% to 75%. READ HERE >>
--------------------------------------------
Comment
Friendship Textile Factory in Tanzania was established in 1968 and expanded in 1975 with further development assistance from China. It was a large textile project at that time, with 40,000 spindles, 1,154 looms and two printing and dyeing lines. From late 1980s to 1994, production at the factory ground to a halt. In 1995, the factory was transformed into a Sino-Tanzanian joint venture. The China Jiangsu Changzhou Textile Corporation apparently invested over US$10m to set up the joint venture with its Tanzanian counterpart; and, the factory resumed production in April 1994. By the end of 2000, revenues had apparently reached $33.5m; and the company had created about 1,800 jobs. In recent times the firm has concentrated in spinning (poor quality) cotton yarns, making (poor quality) woven cotton fabric upon which was printed traditional Tanzanian cloths (e.g. kanga and kitenge).

Currently the textile mill is for all intents and purposes defunct. It’s a prime piece of property in the centre of Dar es Salaam which, with the right investor, could be a significant textile and apparel production unit. Much of the equipment it currently has is obsolete and will have to be scrapped; and significant upgrades to the premises will have to be undertaken. However, the essential layout of the existing factory complex makes it ideal to locate another textile manufacturing operation. A textile operation will also be able to re-employ many of the workers currently engaged at the plant. The sooner the government of Tanzania terminates the joint venture partnership the better.


SOUTH AFRICA – MOHAIR GOAT ABUSE, 7 June 2018
Following the release of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) video illustrating breaches of its guidelines and policies, as well as of South African law, Mohair South Africa (SA) has advised that it immediately launched its own investigation into the allegations of animal abuse on South African angora goat farms. Simultaneously, and in order to ensure that a full and proper investigation was completed, Mohair SA has stated that it had also engaged the services of an independent quality assurance company to conduct an audit of the farms identified as having been visited by the PETA representative.

Mohair SA has further notified that it has identified only two farms where abuse was taking place and that it has now: i) suspended these farms from participating in further mohair fibre auctions; ii) identified the contract goat sheering unit whose staff abused the goats and that it has asked that this firm discipline the staff engaged in goat abuse; and, iii) met with the National Council of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the NSPCA) in order to address the concerns arising from the video footage. Mohair SA has advised that it will continue the dialogue with the international clothing brands about their decision to stop using mohair.

According to Mohair SA the production of mohair in the SA supports approximately 30,000 people, many of whom are labourers living in the Karoo region of the country (a large, arid, sparsely populated semi-desert). Mohair SA claims that a ban on South African origin mohair will leave many of these people destitute, and will lead to the destruction of the mohair industry, as well as the loss of approximately 800,000 angora goats. READ HERE >>


SOUTH AFRICA – MR PRICE TO EXPAND INTO POLAND, 4 June 2018
Mr Price plans to enter the Polish market by November 2018. This will be the company’s second foray into the northern hemisphere, after entering Nigeria in 2012. The Group will join a handful of other Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed retail (and property) companies with a presence in Poland, (eastern Europe’s biggest economy). Steinhoff’s Pepco has found success in that market.

The Mr Price Group has advised that it now tends to take a more circumspect approach when entering new markets. In 2003, the retailer closed six test stores in Chile. It is currently testing Mr Price Home, and apparel stores in Australia (apparently the group has consolidated its Australian three apparel stores into one). The Mr Price Group stated that it would also focus on its rest-of-Africa operations after "addressing" the South African business. It said that it would venture into new territories; and that planned to open a test Sheet Street outlet in Zambia. It was revealed that the Mr Price Gtoup was likely to spend R550m (US$43.3m) on capital expenditure in the new financial year. It bought back 12 Kenyan franchise stores in May 2018; and would open about 48 new stores through the year. READ HERE >> and READ HERE >>

MR PRICE GROUP ANNUAL RESULTS - MARCH 2018
SHAREHOLDER PRESENTATION
 
MR PRICE IN AFRICA

Source: Mr Price Group Annual Report: Presentation (March 2018). Page: 37-8.

ZIMBABWE – COTTON MARKETING SEASON, 1-5 June 2018
The 2018 Zimbabwe cotton marketing season has kicked-off countrywide with the Presidential Free Cotton Inputs Scheme expected to surpass the 100,000 tonnage mark targeted for this season. The commencement of the cotton marketing season was officially announced by the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) when it released the market share for all the six contractors who supported the growing of cotton. The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco), which is expected to buy 95% of the cotton sponsored under the Presidential Free Inputs Scheme. READ HERE >>

In preparation of the impending cotton marketing season, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has advised cotton growers, cotton merchants and other stakeholders of the follow
ing marketing and financing arrangements for the 2018 season:
  • cotton growers shall be paid an export incentive of 10%, which shall be paid on a monthly basis through bank accounts or Mobile Money Services. In this regard, cotton merchants shall submit to Reserve Bank, the list of growers and their respective account details every month by the 7th of the month following the one for which the incentive is being claimed.
  • in line with international best practices and the need to promote the use of plastic money, cotton growers shall be paid in cash, a maximum of US$40 per each bale sold, with the balance being deposited into the grower’s bank account or Mobile Wallet Account.
  • that seed cotton shall continue to be purchased using offshore lines of credit. In this regard, cotton merchants are required to secure offshore lines of credit prior to purchasing seed cotton. For avoidance of doubt, only those cotton merchants who were financed by Government, and those who financed cotton production using their own resources shall buy seed cotton. READ HERE >>


ZIMBABWE – COTTON SEED PRODUCER FINANCIAL RESULTS, 6 June 2018
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed seed producer, Seed Co, after tax profits for the year to 31 March 2018 surged 5% to $21,4m despite the group being afflicted by a number of adverse factors, which weighed down on revenue. Seedco is a leading developer and producer of cotton seeds in Zimbabwe, and elsewhere in Africa. READ HERE >>


SOUTH AFRICA – BIDVEST INTERIM RESULTS, 7 June 2018
Bidvest executive management are briefing stakeholders, including shareholders and financial analysts, with regards to the performance of the Group for the ten months ended 30 April 2018. Overall, the year to date operating performance was described as “satisfactory”. According to the company, the positive sentiment stemming from the political changes post the December 2017 African National Congress (ANC) elective conference has not, as yet, translated into increased economic activity.

The company has some investments in the textiles and apparel industry. It advised that its Berzacks Brothers operations, which distributes industrial sewing and related machinery and accessories to the clothing, luggage, upholstery and embroidery industries SEE >> delivered good results. READ HERE >>

Bidvest’s SEE>> textile and apparel orientated investments include:
  • G Fox & Co - manufactures and distributes a complete range of industrial supplies including workwear, safety equipment, industrial footwear, cleaning rags, cleaning chemicals and paper products. SEE >>
  • Bloch & Levitan – a distributor of metal fittings and accessories, PVC, plastic sheeting and upholstery materials, press and peel fasteners and metal trimmings for the leather, upholstery, stationary, luggage, clothing and bag manufacturing industries. SEE >>
  • Giant / Clockworth Clothing - is a large industrial workwear manufacturing company located in eSwatini (née Swaziland) – employing more than 500 workers. Much of its output is sold in-house to the different Bidvest group subsidiaries.
 
NIGERIA – FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT, 4 June 2018
Interview
: Hajiya Aisha Abubaka, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment comments on some of the problems faced by Nigeria’s textile industry and what the Presidential Committee on Cotton, Textile & Garment (CTG) is doing to revive the industry (the CTG is chaired by the Minister).

Interview sni
ppets:
  • “The significance of the textile industry and its impact on the collapse on the nation’s economy is best illustrated by the fact that, at its height, the sector had created over 800,000 jobs, representing 25% of the total number of jobs in the manufacturing sector, second only to the government in the employment of labour. There were 175 textile mills in the country during its golden era, (i.e. 1985 - 1991) out of which today, all but 27 of them have since gone under.”
  • “The CTG identified some key challenges affecting the sector such as lack of cotton lint, smuggling and counterfeiting, inadequate infrastructure, access to power, and funding and recommended actions to address them.”
  • “We were able to facilitate the accessing of working capital to enable manufacturers acquire necessary raw materials and other essential inputs for production activities. The committee also, took steps to secure loan re-financing and has recommended 60% of forex allocation from the Central Bank of Nigeria."
  • “The reality is that approximately N500 million to N1 trillion (US$2,78bn) is projected for a complete turn-around of the nation’s textile industry. Funds needed by manufacturers to recapitalise have been hampered by the high interest rates charged on loans by financial institutions. The 30% interest rate charged in Nigeria by commercial banks would appear as prohibiting when compared, for example, with the 6% charged in China on loans given to the textile manufacturers.”
  • “The CTG in its bid to resolve the issue of high gas pricing has secured a presidential approval for the re-categorisation of textile manufacturers as a strategic industrial sector as against earlier classification in the commercial sector. The major implication of the policy shift is the elimination of the many bottlenecks in the supply of energy to the textile mills. Once implemented by the gas producers, gas supply to the textile manufacturers will cost only US$3 per standard cubic feet as against the old regime of US$8.45.”
  • “Effective from January 2018 and the 11 textile mills in Lagos State, already connected to the gas pipelines will be the immediate beneficiaries of this reprieve. Textile manufacturing companies in other parts of the country that are not connected will depend on supplies from refineries in their regions of location by means of CNG trucks.”
READ HERE >>


ETHIOPIA – PERMIT FOR BT COTTON RELEASED
The Government of Ethiopia is the latest African country to authorise the cultivation of Bt crops. It has recently granting two approvals for the environmental release of Bt cotton, and research trials on Bt maize. In a letter sent by the Ethiopian Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change to the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (the Applicant) the Minister authorised the planting of two Bt cotton hybrids. The release of Bt cotton is based on an expert analysis of the results from two-season confined field trials conducted under the supervision of the Biosafety Affairs Directorate of Ethiopian Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.

The Ethiopian government has identified cotton as a strategically important commodity crop to supply raw material to the country’s rapidly growing textile manufacturing sector. The government also wants to support cotton growing as it will generate thousands of jobs for those involved in growing the cotton. READ HERE >>
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Comment:
It will be interesting to see how the introduction of Bt cotton plays out in the medium to long term. A number of cotton production development NGO’s are active in Ethiopia – some of whom will not work with Bt cotton. Of course a massive and successful roll-out of cotton growing will also be important in helping Ethiopia to relieve its massive foreign exchange shortage.


GHANA – EFFORTS TO STOP SMUGGLING OF TEXTILES, 4 June 2018
Players in the Ghanaian textiles value chain have come to a consensus position on the implementation modalities of the newly instituted “tax stamps” for textiles in the country. The “tax stamps” are being introduced to an effort to root out smuggled (and pirated) textile goods. The modalities allow fabric importers and retailers of textiles enough time to clear all old stocks of the products they keep. READ HERE >>

The major beneficiaries of the stamp tax process will be the Ghanaian companies that print wax designs, including: ATL (SEE >>), GTP (SEE >> - which has the Netherlands based Vlisco as a shareholder - SEE >>), and Printex (SEE >>).


SOUTH AFRICA – MILLION MANDELA T SHIRTS, June 2018
An initiative in South Africa aims to see one million t-shirts being sold with Nelson Mandela’s (aka “Madiba”) image on it. The t-shirt, which depict an image of Mandela’s face celebrates the centenary year of Nelson Mandela - he was born on 18 July 1918.

The t-shirts have been made by Trade Call Investments (TCI) in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF). TCI SEE >> is owned by South Africa’s largest textile and apparel trade union (the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) SEE >>). The cotton used to make the t-shirts is grown in Malawi, Madagascar (Editor: apparently! Madagascar is not known for its cotton production), Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. Its unknown where the knit fabrics are being made but it could be that they are being made at Frame Knitting (based in South Africa - SEE >>) and Star Knitwear (based in Mauritius - SEE >>) – both of these plants are owned by SACTWU.

The NMF’s director of communications has stated that since the start of the 100 days leading up to Madiba’s centenary on 18 July the t-shirt had been worn by many notable people such as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President David Mabuza, Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and Energy Minister Jeff Radebe; even the rugby Springboks wore the t-shirts in the United States ahead of their showdown with Wales. READ HERE >> and READ HERE >>


SOUTH AFRICA – FALKE SOCKS EXPANDS TO AUSTRALIA, 7 June 2018
Legwear specialist manufacturers Falke South Africa (SA) SEE >> will expand its global footprint, when they establish a retail presence in Australia. Falke SA, based in Cape Town, is a subsidiary of a German textile giant. The SA operation was established in 1974 and is widely recognised as a local market leader. Falke SA currently manufactures approximately 7m pairs of socks per year for the domestic and export markets. READ HERE >>

Falke already exports significant quantities of socks to the United States (US) using the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) – it is the single largest SA user of the AGOA programme from an apparel perspective. In 2016 SA firms – and its thought that Falke was the only firm - sold US$6.9m worth of socks into the US market place (in 2017: US$5.3m; in the period January to end April 2018 SA made socks worth US$1.48m had been exported to the US). The Falke socks are mainly sold under the Balega brand name in the US. SEE >>


ETHIOPIA – DISTRESSED SECTOR FIRM GETS MORE BAILOUT, 2 June 2018
The Ayka Addis Textile & Investment Group, which has incurred massive financial losses for the past four years, has received further support from the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE). The DBE’s board has directed its management to assist by granting it a pre-shipment credit. The company apparently already owes the DBE 2.3bn EBr (US$84.6m) for a loan it extended to Ayka in the form of project financing and working capital credit. The Bank’s management had previously taken a strict stand against the company citing its outstanding loan, repayment history and loan portfolio. READ HERE >>


ETHIOPIA – WASTE WATER TREATMENT FACILITIES, 5 June 2018
In 2015 the Indian head-quartered Envisol corporation SEE >> was awarded its first major international order of a zero-liquid discharge (ZLD) plant at Ethiopia’s textile and apparel focused Hawassa Industrial Park. The facility has a water recycling capacity of 11m litres per day (MLD). The company has now revealed that it has secured three more orders for water treatment plants in Ethiopia. READ HERE >>
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Comment
Much has been written about Ethiopia’s “eco-industrial parks” – especially on the "flagship" Hawassa Industrial Park. However, little has been reported about the capacity of the town of Hawassa’s solid waste landfill (or any other solid waste landfill anywhere else in the country) to be able to safely accommodate the sludge wastes that are a residue of the fabric/yarn dye, and garment wet processing that remains in the zero-liquid discharge industrial waste water treatment plant!


TANZANIA – COTTON PRODUCTION, 4 June 2018
Tanzania’s Mwanza Region (Near to Lake Victoria) faces an acute shortage of agricultural cotton extension officers which is impeding cotton production. Reports from district agriculture offices in Kwimba, Sengerema, Misungwi and Buchosa indicate that the region is short of 221 extension officers. Currently there are 155 extension officers. Sengerema has 43 extension officers instead of 103, Buchosa has 21 instead of 40, Misungwi has 91 instead of 114, and, Kwimba has no extension officer.

In another development Tanzania’s President has directed that the country’s crop boards reduce farm produce charges saying they are burdening smallholders. Speaking during a launch of the second phase of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme the President said farmers get little profits because they pay many charges. “Farmers are totally frustrated because they sell produce at very low prices, but pay many nuisance taxes to boards,”. He gave the example of the Tanzania Cotton Board that has not supplied agricultural inputs to farmers yet imposes levies on them when they sell their crops. READ HERE >> and READ HERE >>
 
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FEATURE
ETHIOPIA

LIVING WAGES FOR H&M VENDOR WORKERS

As has been reported in previous editions of the “African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor” Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) labour rights bodies are now starting to pile pressure on H&M related to its 2014 commitment that workers in its supply chain will be paid living wages by 2018. The Netherlands based Clean Clothes Campaign is spearheading the “Turn Around H & M” campaign which aims to focus pressure on H&M and its “living wage” commitment. READ HERE >>

H&M sources significant volumes of garments from Ethiopia – and the wages paid to its workers there are perhaps some of the lowest paid by any of its manufacturing vendors anywhere else in the world. H&M has recognised this. So naturally the company’s sourcing operations there will, at some point in time, undoubtedly be placed under a spotlight.

In a recent post (4 June 2018) on its web site
READ HERE >> H&M stated that it was now working within a coalition of buyers and a global trade union active in the textile and apparel manufacturing industry to create circumstances to achieve a living wage. It stated the following:

Within ACT (Action Collaboration Transformation
SEE >>), 17 brands and retailers are working together with the global trade union IndustriALL. Our shared vision is that all textile workers across the entire industry should earn living wages. We work to find ways to bring sustainable improvements for all textile workers – no matter which factory they work at or which brands they make goods for. Instead, we are looking for fair and long-term solutions that are the same for everyone.

HOW DOES ACT WORK TO GET US THERE
“Firstly, all ACT members agree on the need for industry-wide collective bargaining agreements to achieve living wages. It would mean that workers in the garment and textile industry within a country can negotiate their wages under the same conditions, regardless of the factory they work in, and the brands they produce for.

“Secondly, it is important that the brands buying goods from garment and textile suppliers make sure their respective purchasing practices support a living wage. They should enable the suppliers to plan their work to avoid unnecessary peaks and lows. Equally important is that the wage cost on a product is not up for negotiation making sure that the workers’ wages are not negatively affected.

“Thirdly, ACT’s engagement with national governments, local trade unions and employers (the factories) is of great importance. Particularly since a commitment from national actors is essential for necessary changes of legal frameworks as well as negotiations between the parties on the labour market.
GROUND-BREAKING AND NECESSARY
"All the brands within ACT as well as IndustriALL, representing textile workers all over the world, have agreed to work actively together to transform the way wages are set in the garment and textile industry. This is a unique and necessary collaboration making it possible for us to work in a way we have not been able to do before. Change will not happen overnight, but we are convinced our way of working is the most sustainable long-term.
"ACT is something which has never been tried before. It’s a joint initiative of major brands in the garment and textile industry together with IndustriALL with a clear objective to work together to achieve living wages for textile workers in the garment and textile producing countries."
Frank Hoffer, Executive Director ACT
"It is positive that we join forces to find solutions to shared challenges. ACT makes it possible to create lasting change for the whole industry in a way that would not be possible for individual companies acting on their own. This is a complex challenge that should be addressed together, especially since the challenges are the same for the whole industry and since we share suppliers with many others."
Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability H&M group


Comment
Clearly the move by H&M is designed to take some of the heat off its living wage commitment – a commitment that it could never really have ever delivered on.

The recognition by H&M that their, together with other apparel brands and retailers SEE >>, purchasing practices do impact upon the ability of companies to pay a living wage is an important acknowledgment. Opening this up to further scrutiny and finding better ways to place orders at manufacturing vendors will be important in ensuring that wages rise. It will, however, not be an easy task.

Its interesting to see that H&M and other garment purchasers are now open to accepting that centralised bargaining may be the key to unlock the door for across the board improved pay. I am a supporter of centralised/industry wide collective bargaining as an instrument to set minimum wages and other terms and conditions of employment in a sector / value chain. I believe that majority (and independent) trade unions, and employer organisations should bargain over minimum wages and other conditions of service and then have these settlements extended to an entire value chain. These agreements should then be enforced - with few exceptions. There should, preferably, be a single bargain - not multiple bargains.

Of course it will mean that in many African countries that legislation may have to be amended in order to allow for centralised collective bargaining; and, for any settlements reached to be extended to non-parties in the value chain.

It will also mean that apparel brands / retailers should ensure that trade unions are given sufficient space to develop credible “organisation”. Only credible and strong worker organisations will be able secure real improvements to wages and other terms and conditions of employment. Brands and retailers must be particularly hard on any firms (and governments) that do not subscribe - conceptually and in practice - to all tenants of the freedom of association.

I have often seen brand / retailer compliance officials step in to resolve disputes – often invited in by lazy union officials who should be using many of the shop floor challenges they and their members face to further develop their union's strength. This union reliance of simply sending an email to a brand / retailer compliance officer to whine about workers’ problems with management (generally) does nothing to build their organisation in the short, medium and long term. Unions must recognise that they should use day-to-day factory problems and struggles to build a better (and therefore stronger) organisation - which should then give them more power in interest based collective bargaining scenarios.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) also has a role to play in ensuring that stringer unions emerge. In this context the ILO should have a fundamental rethink about their Better Work programme SEE >>. In my view the initiative should concentrate on operating in way so as to support the development of union organisation. Often the staff of the Better Work programme end-up doing the work that trade unions should be doing; and, in some cases, its programme staff even undertake the work of the labour ministries in the countries where they operate. This is hardly a sustainable way of doing things.

I often got the impression, when I was in Lesotho, that many of the Better Work staff saw themselves as missionaries making things better for workers (indeed even some of the academic reviewers of Better Work programmes tend to judge the merits of the intervention on the basis of how much it improved worker's lives). In my view the Better Work project teams should be mainly creating the “space” for unions to be able to mobilise for better working conditions in compliance with domestic labour laws and international labour standards. Its also ironic that the Better Work programme sometimes weakens a government's own labour inspectorate by recruiting its core project staff from government ranks.

Of course there are challenges to what I suggest. What should apparel brands / retailers do when unions do not become learning institutions, or when unions are controlled by a corrupt leadership (they are management lackeys, pawns of the political elites, etc). In this regard perhaps there are roles that global and regional trade union groupings could play - supported by labour rights NGOs.

EDITOR – More on the Better Work programme in a future newsletter. Better Work ran a programme in Lesotho which they closed in 2016; it is currently running a “pilot” intervention in Egypt; and, I am told, that they are now about to unleash a programme in Ethiopia (which, no doubt, apparel brands and retailers buying goods from the country will love because it will be underwritten by a substantial volume of donor funding which will subsidise their own compliance operations; and it will no doubt legitimise their own compliance objectives).
 
FACT OF THE WEEK
TANZANIA
KNIT GARMENT EXPORTS TO THE UNITED STATES
2017; JAN TO APRIL 2017 COMPARED WITH JAN TO APRIL 2018 (in US$)
The single largest exporter of knit garments from Tanzania to the United States (US) - using the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) is Mazava Tanzania (part of the Winds Group SEE >>). Mazava is based in the inland town of Morogoro - about 180km from Dar es Salaam. It concentrates almost exclusively on the production of garments made with man-made fibers as these garments, if they were to enter the US from countries like Vietnam, China, India or Cambodia, would attract most-favoured-nation (MFN) customs duties in the US of between 28% and 32% ad valorem.
TANZANIA
WOVEN GARMENT EXPORTS TO THE UNITED STATES
2017; JAN TO APRIL 2017 COMPARED WITH JAN TO APRIL 2018 (in US$)
The single largest exporter of woven garments from Tanzania to the United States (US) - using the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) is Tanzania Tooku Garments (part of the JD United Group - SEE >>). Tooku is based in the Benjamin William Mkapa Special Economic Zone in Dar es Salaam. It makes jeans for important US brands - including jeans for Levi Strauss.
 
RESEARCH & REPORTS

The Cotton & Textiles Sector in Tanzania: Issues and Opportunities”. The research team consisted of individuals from: Golder Associates (SA), the University of Manchester (UK), and Oxford Policy Management. The research was funded by the Tanzania Gatsby Trust / Gatsby Charitable Foundation. June 2007.

Synopsis: This study originates from discussions between the Tanzania Minister of Planning, Economy & Empowerment, the Tanzania Minister for Trade & Industry, and Lord David Sainsbury (settlor of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GCF)) in January 2007. In the discussions it was agreed that GCF and its associated Trust, the Tanzania Gatsby Trust (TGT), would fund an exploratory study of the cotton and textile sectors with a view to identifying issues, constraints and investment opportunities. The focus of the study would be on the long-term potential for a major increase in the output of Tanzania’s cotton and textile sector with a view to maximising its potential contribution to the generation of increased GDP, exports, farmer incomes and manufacturing employment. The study is essentially a contribution to the development of strategy in the context of the ‘Mini Tiger Plan’. While a little old the study does provide some useful information. The full paper can be READ HERE >>.


Potential Constraints to Smallholder Integration into the Developing Sisal Value Chain in Tanzania”. Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO). August 2013.

Synopsis: This paper provides a value chain mapping of the sisal industry in Tanzania, discusses the issues affecting the value chain, analyses the programmes designed to integrate smallholders into the value chain, and details the impact of these integration programmes. The full paper can be READ HERE >>.
 
UPCOMING EVENTS

UNITED STATES – AGOA FORUM DATES SET
9 - 12 JULY 2018
The 17th session of the United States-Africa Trade & Economic Cooperation Forum will be held in Washington DC, 9-12 July 2018. Commonly known as the “AGOA Forum”, the annual event normally consists of three components: the official Ministerial, the Private Sector Session, and the Civil Society event.
 
The Civil Society event will take place on 9 July 2018 and is being organised by the AGOA CSO Network and the African Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP). More information on the Civil Society Event is available HERE >>. No information has been released yet on the timing/contents of the Ministerial, and Private Sector sessions.
Source: Africa Coalition for Trade See >>
 
  • Source Africa - Trade Show - 20-21 June 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. For more information: www.sourceafrica.co.za
  • 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: www.apparel-sourcing-usa.us
  • Sourcing at Magic - Trade Show - 12-15 August 2018. Las Vegas, United States. For more information: www.ubmfashion.com
  • International Textile Manufacturers' Federation (ITMF) - Annual Conference - 7-9 September 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. For more information: www.itmf.org
  • Origin Africa – Trade Show - 9-11 September 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. For more information: www.originafrica.org
  • Apparel Sourcing Paris - Trade Show - 17-20 September 2018. Paris, France. For more information: www.apparelsourcing.fr.messefrankfurt.com
  • Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week (ASFW) - Trade Show - 1-4 October 2018. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information: www.asfw-online.com
  • Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference - Annual Conference - 22-24 October 2018. Milan, Italy. For more Information: www.textileexchange.org
  • Destination Africa - Trade Show - 17-19 November 2018. Cairo, Egypt. For more information: www.destination-africa.org
  • ATF Expo - Trade Show - 20-23 November 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. For more information: www.atfexpo.co.za
  • 77th Plenary Meeting - International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) - Annual Conference - 2-7 December 2018. Abidjan, Ivory Coast. For more information: www.icac.org
 
CLASSIFIEDS
JOBS
TENDERS & PROCUREMENT
MANUFACTURING EQUIPMENT WANTED / FOR SALE
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).
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ETHIOPIA - EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
TURNAROUND MANAGER
ERTICALLY INTEGRATED TEXTILE & APPAREL FACILITY

The appointee will, working with key stakeholders, diagnose the current situation of the factory and then design/execute a turnaround strategy. The work will include a corporate strategy diagnosis to identify where the factory can improve, and the development of subsequent courses of action to make the factory profitable in the long-term. For 3 months the appointee will diagnose problems and develop a strategy; in the following 9 months he/she will roll-out approved actions. The appointee may, with prior approval, hire additional experts. Deadline for applications is 15 June 2018. For full details contact: info@equiception.net
 
CLICK TO SHARE YOUR NEWS & PICTURES WITH US
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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