This newsletter contains links to content located on external websites.
Over time it is likely that some of the links to this content may be broken.
You are advised to download material of interest as soon as possible.
(#22 / 2018 - 14 August 2018)
In 2017 SSA's biggest clothing export to the US was woven mens/boys trousers of cotton (HS6203.42) worth US$202.7m
In 2017 SSA's second largest garment export to the US was knitted sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, of man-made fibers (HS6110.30) worth US$123.6m
In 2017 SSA's third largest apparel export to the US was woven mens/boys shirts of cotton (HS6205.20), worth US$120.7m

The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock has announced that within 15 years the country will stop importing cotton as a consequence of it “installing technologies" and encouraging private owners in the sector. While the country has about 3m hectares of land suitable (i.e. the right soil) for cotton production it is currently, on average, only cultivating 80,000 hectares and producing about 55,000 tonnes of lint cotton per annum. Apparently Ethiopia is using about 80% of the cotton that is produced locally and is thus importing lint for local textile mills - in 2016 Ethiopia imported about 13,000 tonnes of lint. READ HERE >>

Factory work in both the Maseru and Maputsoe areas of the country was brought to standstill on 9 August 2018 as workers downed tools down following the government’s failure to respond to their salary demands that they submitted two months ago. Even though the unions vowed that the “industrial action” would be legitimate and would not result in violence some strikers broke windows and assaulted some workers. On 2 August a coalition of Lesotho trade unions called a press conference where they stated that if the Government did not respond to their petition on wages that they submitted to the Prime Minister in June 2018 that there would be a general strike on 9 August. They said that they would continue to protest until the Government responded positively. In their petition the workers demanded a minimum M2,000 (US$141) monthly salary for factory workers, and a 15% increase for other sectors in the private sector. READ HERE >>

Its now rumoured that the Lesotho government has decided that a wage increase of M2,000 should be implemented. Currently a general worker in the textile and apparel industry earns a minimum wage of M1,238 (US$85) a month - so a wage of M2,000 would represent an annual 62.5% increase. A sewing machinist currently earns R1,456 (US$100) per month - assuming the differential between a general worker and a sewing machinist will remain the same the new sewing machinist minimum wage will be about R2,352 (US$162) per month. Its likely that the pay increase will be backdated to 1 April 2018 - one firm calculated that just paying the backpay would cost it over R62m (US$4.27m).

This has obviously sent most textile and apparel investors in Lesotho (those who get their orders via Asian buyers; and South African owned plants) into a panic. It is predicted that many are already actively looking at alternative investment destinations - some in nearby eSwatini (nèe Swaziland), but also as far afield as Kenya and Ethiopia; while some may return to South Africa.

Firms now anxiously await the formal announcement of the increase via a Lesotho Government Gazette publication.

The independent panel appointed to review the current list of zero-rated food items for VAT purposes has recommended additional items, including sanitary products, school uniforms, and baby and adult nappies be added to the list. The panel’s report was released by the South African Finance Minister for public comment.

According to the Living Conditions Survey (LCS), total expenditure on school uniforms in South Africa is approximately R4.5bn (US$319m) per year; others estimate expenditure to be in the order of R10bn (US$710m). The panel did realise that item “school uniforms” is made up of expenditure on, among others, shirts, shoes, socks, jerseys, dresses and blazers and so, on a practical basis, it would be difficult to demarcate these clothing items that apply specifically to the category “school uniforms”. For example, the shirt that makes up most school uniforms is a plain white shirt. However, plain white shirts may also be purchased and used for wearing with casual clothing and business attire (mainly by individuals from high income households). READ HERE >> and the VAT Panel report can be READ HERE >> (see pages 48-62 for school uniforms, nappies and sanitary items.)

A 1% VAT increase was necessary (with effect from 1 April 2018) mainly because elements of the ANC ruling party (including its president) got into bed with a number of corrupt businessmen and this negatively impacted upon the performance of the economy, the performance of a number of state parastatals, and the efficiency of the state revenue authority (SARS) to collect taxes. After the 1% VAT increase was announced demands to zero-rate some products was led by a chorus of South African trade union federations – ironically including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) … many of whose affiliates (some by omission; some intentionally) supported a corrupt and incompetent ANC leadership.

The issue of school uniforms in South Africa is also the subject of another inquiry. In January 2017 the Competition Commission announced it was launching an investigation into the South African school uniform market. The “African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor” I wrote to the South African Competition Commission to find out what had happened to this investigation. In early July 2018 I asked:
  • “In January 2018 there were media reports that the investigation would soon be finalised and the outcome made public. Would you be able to forward a copy of the report to me?"
  • “If the investigation has not been finalised - why is this the case? When does the Commission anticipate that this matter will be finalised?"
  • “Furthermore, thus far, as a consequence of the investigation, has the Commission decided to bring cases against any uniform manufacturers, retail uniform suppliers, school governing bodies, or any other party?"
My inquiries were initially ignored. A number of reminders were sent – and after about three weeks the Competition Commission advised that the matter had not been finalised. Don’t you hate it when good news events are announced with major fanfare – but then things go quiet?

Kenya employers are opposed to the creation of a wages council for Export Processing Zones (EPZ) workers, under proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act. The changes, if adopted, will empower a Cabinet Secretary to establish a wages council without consulting the employers and workers. The Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE), however, said there is already an existing Regulation of Wages Order in the tailoring, garment making and associated trades that serves a similar purpose and is already in use. The FKE said that a wages council may be established through a gazette notice if necessary and not through a change of the fundamental provision of the laws. “The committee of parliament has produced a report that by and large agrees with our input and that of the workers and various stakeholders who are concerned about the changes proposed. Employers wish that Parliament declines to pass this proposed bill in its entirety,” FKE CEO stated. The opposition comes amid persistent calls by workers for a 22% basic pay increase to counter the rising cost of living. READ HERE >>

On 1 May 2018 the President of Kenya announced that all workers would receive a minimum wage increase of 5% (to be implemented on 1 May 2018). There were howls of protest from Kenyan apparel value chain manufacturers – and now almost 3.5 months later no Kenyan “Government Gazette” has appeared to advise what the new schedule of minimum wages is. Are the increases taking a back seat to the “Big Four Agenda”?

Local Zimbabwean businesses have urged their government to pile pressure on the South African government to reverse its decision to terminate a Bilateral Trade Agreement between the two countries. Last year South Africa gave notice of its intention to terminate the trade agreement which had been in place since 1964, opting for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) trade protocol. For South Africa, the SADC trade protocol is more comprehensive but for Zimbabwe — which in 2016 imposed a ban on a wide range of South African imports under Statutory Instrument 64 — the deal means Zimbabwean exports could lose some of their preferential access to the South African market place.

The bi-lateral trade agreement, which will now cease in November 2018, favoured Zimbabwean exports of clothing and textiles due to its relaxed trade rules of origin (“single transformation” compared to “double transformation” under the SADC Trade Protocol). The bi-lateral apparently allowed Zimbabwean clothing makers to import fabrics from foreign markets, especially Asian suppliers such as China, India and Bangladesh, to produce finished clothing items, and then re-export these goods to South Africa under favourable terms. READ HERE >>

The South Africa–Zimbabwe (nèe “Southern Rhodesia”) free trade agreement was dormant for many years – throughout most of the nineties, and then noughties (2000 – 2009). It was then reactivated by both countries - circa 2014/15. The bilateral agreement is a tariff-quota arrangement – in that specified Zimbabwean products could enter South Africa at reduced customs duties (not always zero) and subject to more relaxed trade rules of origin. Previous efforts to get SARS to explain in what South African “Government Gazette” all Zimbabwean quotas had been done away and the tariffs reduced to zero were fruitless. I strongly suspect that SARS may have been breaking the law by allowing goods to filter into South Africa this way. Going forward it is likely that Zimbabwe textile and garment manufacturers will respond in kind. Its possible that they will, and correctly so, request their customs authorities ensure that all clothing imported into Zimbabwe from South Africa should fully comply with the trade rules of origin specified in the SADC trade protocol.

A Chinese manufacturing company, Xinjiang Tianye, is in Ghana to hold discussions with some government agencies to establish an industrial park that will focus on tomato processing. Tianye, a drip irrigation provider, is seeking a 20,000-hectare land to build the park. A company representative stated that the Chinese investors were not only interested in tomato production, and that others would venture into the production and processing of cotton. They explaining that their trip to northern Ghana was focused primarily on the cotton industry and other crops that the soil texture there would support. READ HERE >>

On 6 July 2018 the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced that his office would be initiating the annual review of the eligibility of the sub-Saharan African countries to receive the benefits of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). He advised that the AGOA Implementation Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee would be developing recommendations for the President on AGOA country eligibility for calendar year 2019. The Subcommittee then requested written public comments for this review and advised that it would conduct a public hearing on this matter. It set 1 August 2018 as the deadline for filing requests to appear at the 16 August 2018 public hearing.

By 2 August 2018 only three parties had made submissions. None of them directly affecting the textile and apparel manufacturing industry. One of the submissions focused on South Africa’s intellectual property protection legislation. Some serious allegations were leveled at South Africa – and if the Trump administration has a sympathetic ear it may well result in the country having its AGOA status revoked. The US’s American Federation of Labour & Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) – which in 2017 initially opposed Swaziland regaining its AGOA status – has made a submission concerning Mauritania’s AGOA status only. READ HERE >> (cite search term “USTR 2018-0022”)

Initiated by Brazil, the “Cotton 4 + Togo” project aims to provide producers and other actors in Togo’s cotton sector with key information and quality training. Since it was launched, more than 500 Togolese farmers have benefited from the project and had their skills regarding improved seeds cultivation techniques strengthened. In line with its agricultural development strategy, Togo eyes a cotton output of 200,000 metric tons by 2022. READ HERE >>

Print and textiles brand, GTP (SEE >>) has taken a swipe at the country’s Ministry of Trade & Industry (MOTI) describing the ministry's pirated textiles vetting committee as a 'dead' one. GTP said the committee has failed in executing its core mandate of checking the importation of pirated textiles in the country. The government, through MOTI, recently set up a task-force to check on the entry of fake textiles into the country. It subsequently inaugurated a twelve-member vetting committee to facilitate the work of the Anti-Textile Piracy Taskforce. READ HERE >>

Looks like Ebrahim Patel's Competition Tribunal is having a busy time processing matters related to South Africa's textile and apparel manufacturing sector. Three sector cases are now before the Tribunal, namely:
  • Berg River Textiles and Eye Way Trading: It has been alleged that Berg River Textiles (now closed) and Eye Way Trading (which rather inelegantly refers to itself at a “Tender Management Service Provider”) colluded when bidding for tenders issued by the South African government for the supply of fabric used to manufacture uniforms for the country’s prisons’ Department, the South African Air Force, and the South African Military Health Services. Both companies were found guilty; then both commenced appeal proceedings in the Competition Appeal Court. It now been learnt that one of the parties wants to settle and is negotiating a settlement.
  • Trade Call Investments Apparel and Seardel Group Trading: In a matter set down for 15 August 2018 the Competition Tribunal will deliberate on the punishment to be meted out to a company for not notifying it of a takeover prior to the takeover being effected.
Ironically both the above matters indirectly concern the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) - Comrade Patel’s alma mater. Berg River Textiles is part of the Winelands Textiles group – which is owned by the stock exchange listed Deneb, which in turn is ultimately controlled by the stock exchange listed Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI - a significant shareholder of which is SACTWU; while the HCI executive board are mainly a grouping of former textile and apparel trade unionists). Trade Call Investments (SEE >>) is wholly owned by SACTWU.
  • Glodina and a subsidiary of South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC): Glodina was a very large toweling company that, in late 2017, was closed down by its owners. South Africa’s IDC, a parastatal falling under Minister Patel’s Economic Development Department, then stepped in and tried to buy the facility. However its attempt to buy the plant was challenged by another manufacturer in the South African toweling marketplace. Zorbatex has apparently argued that the purchase of Glodina by the IDC, which already is the sole owner of owned Colibri Toweling as well as the single largest cotton yarn spinner in South Africa, could put the IDC in a very strong market position.

The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2018 wage negotiations in the Cotton Textile Sector. ​This sector covers those manufacturers who are engaged in activities such as yarn spinning, the production of wide width woven textile fabrics, and the commission printing and dyeing of fabrics. The agreement was reached under the auspices of the National Textile Bargaining Council (NTBC). SACTWU’s negotiating partner was the South African Cotton & Textile Processing Employers’ Association (SACTPEA). The settlement for 2018 will be 7.75%, and for 2019 it will be 7.5% - increases will be backdated to 1st July 2018. Source – Press Release by SACTWU - SEE >>

The agricultural inputs distribution programme for 2018/19 is in full swing as Government moves to ensure that farmers receive necessary support on time for a successful farming season. Already, thousands of rural households in various districts have received input packages of cotton and maize under the Presidential Inputs Scheme. The Scheme is being administered by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO) and The Grain Marketing Board. In the previous years, most farmers failed to plant on time due to the late distribution of inputs, resulting in poor yields. The cotton input supports programme is running for a fourth consecutive year, having started in 2015/16 season. Since its launch, national cotton production has grown from 28,000 tonnes, the lowest since 1992. For this year’s harvest (2017/18 season) the output target of 100,000 tonnes has already been surpassed. READ HERE >>

Cotton production has surpassed last year’s output with over 112,000 tonnes delivered so far to COTTCO depots countrywide. The growth in cotton output, which is double the 54,000 tonnes produced last year, has been attributed to the Presidential Cotton Free Inputs Scheme. READ HERE >>

The Bulawayo business community has urged the incoming government to hit the ground running by creating an enabling environment that will promote businesses in the second largest city. Bulawayo, which was earmarked for special economic zone by government some few years ago, has suffered chronic de-industrialisation effects over the past two decades with over 100 firms - many in the textile and clothing sectors - closing down and leaving thousands of workers jobless. Some of the firms that closed shop include David Whiteheads, Textile Mills, Belmore Manufacturers, True Value, Label Fashion, Suntosha Leisure Wear, Lancaster, Harren Manufacturing, Belmor Fashions, Cinderella, Rusglen Fashions, Ascot Clothing. READ HERE >>


Clothing brand Ralph Lauren has decided to ban the use of mohair in the garments that it sells. The New York–based retail giant has now joined over 280 brands - including the likes of H&M, Zara, Gap, Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Diane von Furstenberg - that have pledged not to sell the cruelly obtained material. Some companies such as H&M will be phasing mohair out over time, eliminating it entirely by 2020. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Ralph Lauren’s compassionate business move follows PETA’s video exposé (early May 2018) of the mohair industry in South Africa, which is the source of more than 50% of the world’s mohair. The exposé revealed how hasty shearers—who are paid by volume, not by the hour— left angora goats with gaping wounds. Workers then roughly stitched the animals up without giving them any pain relief. READ HERE >>

According to Mohair South Africa (Mohair SA - SEE >>) the production of mohair supports approximately 30,000 people, many of whom are labourers living in the Karoo, a large, arid, sparsely populated semi-desert area of South Africa. A ban on mohair will leave many of these vulnerable people destitute, and will lead to the destruction of the mohair industry, as well as the loss of approximately 800,000 angora goats in South Africa.

In early July the "African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor" wrote to Mohair SA in order to what steps they had taken to ensure the continued viability of mohair goat farming in South Africa, and in order to see what impact that a growing number of mohair products boycotts may be having were having.

Question: Mohair South Africa (SA) has advised that it had launched its own investigation into the allegations of animal abuse on some South African angora goat farms. How far have these investigations progressed?

Mohair SA: Through our investigations we have been able to identify two farms where shearing practices and the conduct of contracted shearing teams were questionable. We have been in contact with the company that contracted the shearers, who immediately launched their own investigation. It would appear that the same shearing team was identified on both farms and a specific shearer was identified as the culprit. The company has started its own disciplinary process, which will probably result in the suspension of that specific shearer. In the meantime the NSPCA has indicated that could institute legal action against the shearers in line with the South African Animal Protection Act, which deals with the abuse of animals. This could result in a fine, or jail time, for the implicated individual should he be found guilty in court.

Question: Since the scandal broke have there been auctions of South Africa origin mohair? If yes, has the scandal impacted upon mohair auction prices and, by how much? What does Mohair SA think will happen to mohair prices over the next 12 to 24 months?

Mohair SA: There have been auctions, and the markets for different types of South African mohair showed some growth, while others remained mostly unchanged. We have not seen an impact on auction prices yet, but we do anticipate some kind of impact within the coming winter season sales, or possibly in next year’s summer season sales. At this point we cannot speculate how significant the impact will be, but it remains a major concern for us heading into the coming 12 to 24 months.

Question: PETA has advised that many apparel / home textile brands and retailers have decided to stop selling mohair products. How does Mohair SA intend to reverse this situation?

Mohair SA: We are constantly in communication with international brands. Since the PETA report came to light we have been inundated with calls and questions from international stakeholders. Our marketing team also has a series of international visits and trade shows on its diary for the coming months, as we would like to speak to these individual brands face-to-face. We are also looking at targeting new markets – markets that we were previously unable to supply with mohair due to the limited quantity – so we hope to break some new ground if some of our existing clients decide to go through with the ban on mohair.

Question: It has been reported that new measures have been put in place by the Lesotho government to better regulate the activities of mohair (and wool) traders operating within its territory. There is also a report that a large wool / mohair trading facility will be built in the country and that mohair will be sold via online auction directly to international buyers. This could mean that all / much of Lesotho's clip will not pass through South African marketing channels. If this is the case what impact will this have on the viability of existing South African companies involved in the value chain that have processed Lesotho origin mohair?

Mohair SA: While South Africa produces more than half of the world’s mohair, we also process more than 95% of mohair produced internationally. If Lesotho mohair is sold directly to international buyers, chances are it will still pass through South Africa as we have the best established processing facilities in the world.

Question: It is known that the South African Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) may be facilitating the development of a mohair cluster. What are the objectives of the cluster? How much money has the DTI contributed? How much funds has the Mohair industry contributed? When did the mohair cluster start its work? What work has been done thus far? What initiatives are contemplated in the future? Given the latest furore caused by the actions of some South African farmers towards their animals; and the (possible) loss of Lesotho origin mohair has this changed any of the clusters plans?

Mohair SA: The Mohair Cluster operates separately from Mohair South Africa. For any questions about the Cluster you can contact Martin Viljoen -
A number of questions (and reminders) were sent to the SA Mohair Cluster co-ordinator - no answers were ever received.

TABLE TOP 15 SSA GARMENT EXPORTERS TO THE US       [This image can be seen if you enable

National AGOA Response Strategy for Zambia – 2018-2025”. Prepared by the Zambia Ministry of Commerce, Trade & Industry with assistance from the USAID Southern Africa Trade & Investment Hub. June 2018.

Synopsis: The Government of the Republic of Zambia remains committed to creating an enabling business environment to promote inclusive growth and industrialization, value addition and diversification of the Zambian economy. It is in this regard that the National African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) Response Strategy, 2018-2025 and Work Plan has been prepared as one of the tools that the Government will use to not only assist policy makers in their day to day planning and evaluation of Zambia’s utilisation of preferences under AGOA but also to assist the private sector to create business linkages and enhance their capacity to export value added, quality products into the US and regional markets. The full paper can be READ HERE >>.
  • 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:
  • Organic Round Table - workshop organised by the Textile Exchange and Catholic Relief Services - 28 September 2018. Koudougou, Burkina Faso. For more information: SEE HERE >>
  • Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week (ASFW) - Trade Show - 1-4 October 2018. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information:
  • Maroc Sourcing 2018 - Trade Show - 11-12 October 2018. Marrakech, Morocco. 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: and SEE HERE >>
  • Morocco Fashion & Textile - Trade Show - 28-31 March 2019, Casablanca, Morocco, For more information:
  • Source Africa - Trade Show - 12-14 June 2019. Cape Town, South Africa. 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).
I get repeated requests from environmental and labour compliance auditing bodies for in-country staff who can assist them with translations when they are undertaking in country audits. If you know of any individuals/organisations who could undertake these kinds of services kindly let me know their details. Country, language competencies, names, contact details please.
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.
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.
The views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor.

My mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter you can also do so by visit the website

©2017 ACTAM