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LOGO OF THE
NEWS & RESEARCH FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT
(#11 / 2019  -  16 April 2019)
www.africantextilesandapparel.com
Large South African Garment Producer Sold to Government Parastatal
Trade Data -
Sub-Saharan Africa's Imports of Worn Clothing from the US
Will the Ugandan Drought Affect its Cotton Crop?
 
NEWS
 

ETHIOPIA - GARMENT FACTORY WORKING CONDITIONS,  16 April 2019
 
" ... but the wages workers in Ethiopia are getting to sew clothes for PVH and H&M makes Bangladesh look like Luxembourg."
Worker Rights Consortium Opinion Piece

The US based Worker Rights Consortium (WRC - SEE >> ) - which conducts independent investigations on factories producing for major brands, and then aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labor abuses and defend their workplace rights - has released a report on working conditions in a sample of Ethiopian factories.

The WRC has stated in an Opinion Piece issued at the time it released the Ethiopian research: "As global brands continue their relentless quest for cheaper places to make clothes, Ethiopia has emerged as the latest fast-fashion frontier.  Several factors combined to make Ethiopia a coveted production locale, including low labor costs, preferential trade access to American and European markets, generous tax incentives from the Ethiopian government, and a large influx of foreign investment, primarily Chinese."

"As brands like H&M and PVH flock to Ethiopia, they claim to be motivated by more than the prospect of greater profits.  To hear them tell it, their arrival augurs social uplift for Ethiopia’s poor laboring population, captured succinctly in the mantra of corporate social responsibility: 'doing well by doing good.'"

"Unfortunately for the country’s garment workers, there is a yawning gap between the brands’ ethical pretentions and the workplace reality for the people sewing their clothes."

In response to the WRC Opinion Piece H&M stated that it was working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to strengthen industrial relations in the textile industry in Ethiopia with the goal of making it possible for workers and employers to negotiate rights and obligations collectively and to resolve conflicts peacefully and in good faith through established processes.

H&M said that its presence in Ethiopia was contributing to the country’s economic growth and had helped to create around 18,000 jobs since 2013.  The company said it had no intention to move production capacity from other markets to Ethiopia in a “race to the bottom”.  The company said it was taking seriously any allegations of violations of labour standards and would continue to follow up with suppliers and implement programs addressing working conditions and workers’ rights.  H&M said it was part of an ILO study aiming at giving the government a basis for future wage adjustments – a research which was under review with the ILO and others. 

PVH stated that while it took the allegations raised in the WRC report very seriously, some of the interviews were two years old and the park and its practices had evolved since then.  It said it would conduct an immediate and thorough investigation and take appropriate action if any violations are found.

The full WRC Opinion Piece, and the comments of H&M and PVH, can be  READ HERE >>.
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The Workers Rights Consortium's Ethiopia garment workers publication "ETHIOPIA IS A NORTH STAR: Grim Conditions and Miserable Wages Guide Apparel Brands in their Race to the Bottom" can be  READ HERE >>.
 
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SOUTH AFRICA – EDCON RETAILER SELLS CELROSE MANUFACTURING UNIT, 12 April 2019
South Africa’s Competition Tribunal has approved, with conditions, the proposed transaction whereby the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC – SEE >>) seeks to acquire the clothing and footwear manufacturer, Celrose.

The IDC is government-owned and gives financial support to businesses.  It also provides finance to entrepreneurs through loans and equity.  The IDC holds interests in several companies and industries such as textiles, clothing and agriculture.

EDCON is a majority shareholder in Celrose. Celrose (SEE >) in turn, owns Eddels footwear (SEE >>) and supplies clothing and footwear to the Edcon group, and other retailers in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

To address merger-related employment concerns by trade unions, the Tribunal has approved the transaction subject to the following conditions:
  • Celrose shall not retrench any employees as a result of the merger for a period of 5 years from the implementation date of the merger
  • for the sake of clarity, retrenchments do not include (i) voluntary retrenchment and/or voluntary separation agreements; (ii) voluntary early retirement packages; (iii) unreasonable refusals to be redeployed in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act; (iv) resignations or retirements in the ordinary course of business; (v) retrenchments lawfully effected for operational requirements unrelated to the merger; (vi) terminations in the ordinary course of business, including but not limited to dismissals as a result of misconduct or poor performance; and (vii) any decision not to renew or extend a contract for a contract worker
  • Celrose must, during the first five-year period of the Merchandise Supply Agreement, provide reports to the Commission in relation to the Agreement.
The Competition Tribunal press release can be READ HERE >>.

Comment
The Celrose garment facility has two plants in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.  The clothing plant near Tongaat (close to the city of Durban) employs about 1,250 workers, and its Isithebe (on the KwaZulu-Natal 100km north of Durban) garment plant employs about 250 workers; it's estimated that the Eddels footwear facility (located in the city of Pietermaritzburg) could employ about 500 people.

This blog / newsletter has been predicting for some time that the IDC would buy Celrose from EDCON.  There are still many unknowns.  In this regard:
  • how much public funds did the IDC pay for its stake in the plant?
  • was the IDC the only organisation/business interested in buying the company?  Rumour has it that there were some other interested private sector buyers.  If this is the case why were their bids not considered?  Is it fair that a state development finance organisation can outbid private sector purchasers?  Surely the state should only get involved as a buyer of last resort (i.e. the prices bid by the private sector were derisory; or no one else was interested).  This also raises the issue of what criteria the IDC uses when deciding to rescue a company?  Why some companies are rescued and not others?  In the past two years two major textile companies have closed – Berg River Textiles near to Cape Town, and SRF Industex in Port Elizabeth.  Why were these not saved?
  • how will the “new” business cope in the context of the fact that one of the biggest customers of Celrose would have been EDCON’s two retailer outlets – Edgars and Jet?  Now that the EDCON group is rolling-back the amount of space its stores rent this would mean that it's going to be selling fewer clothes and thus would need less stock?  In this context, it will be interesting to see the details of the “merchandise supply agreement”.  I think many South African garment manufacturers would be interested to see this for one of its consequences is that the EDCON group may purchase fewer goods from them!
  • have the IDC bought the entire share capital of Celrose?  It is known that Celrose had another significant shareholder – John Comely.  Has his shareholding remained at the same level – if it has changed … in what way has it changed?
  • who will manage the Celrose and Eddel’s facilities – surely not the IDC for what do they know about clothing and footwear manufacture, or the cut-throat business of supplying goods to South African retailers?
The IDC’s involvement in South Africa’s clothing, footwear and home textile manufacturing facilities like Peter Blond & Associates, Imphala Clothing, Trubok, Opus-1 and Chic Shoes was poor (I am being poltice here - for from a distance it looks like they deployed inexperienced staff to oversee these ventures).  All of these firms collapsed while the IDC was on board ... they owed the institution millions!

[EDITOR NOTE: with these firms, it will be interesting to see how much IDC funds the owners of these businesses were loaned? – and after their collapse, how much funds the IDC managed to recover? … and what (if any) other actions the IDC may have initiated against those responsible for the collapse of the business where they had invested so much public funds.]

The IDC's Celrose aquisition raises another issue.  It is a fact that the IDC now has a significant stake in South Africa’s textile, apparel and footwear manufacturing industry.  Prior to this it is known that it owned and controlled the following manufacturing establishments: a cotton spinner Prilla 2000 (SEE >>); two toweling manufacturers – in the Western Cape province Colibri Towelling (SEE >>), and in the KwaZulu-Natal province Glodina towels (SEE >>); and they also own Sheraton Textiles (SEE >>).  Is this the new form of socialism?

All this ownership must also put the IDC in the position of being the single biggest investor in South Africa’s textile and apparel sector.  This must put them in direct competition with a number of customers they currently finance or could finance.  An example of this conflict of interest would include the IDC providing one of its subsidiaries with working capital.  It's entirely possible that the IDC could loan one of its owned businesses working capital at cheaper interest rates than what other sector manufacturers could obtain.  Its likely that an IDC owned facility may obtain emergency finance a lot quicker than would a distressed non IDC owned facility.  Should this happen, it will put it at a significant advantage vis a vis those plants that have to scramble to find working capital to maintain operations. 

Furthermore, what is the penalty for an IDC owned firm when it fails to meet its payback obligations?  I know what would happen if an enterprise that is not owned by the IDC fails to meet its repayments obligations on time.
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... and on the IDC owned Glodina and Colibri Towelling
One hears that Glodina is closing part of its Hammarsdale (just outside of Durban) dyehouse – enabling it to concentrate on making only white (bleached) knitted towels.  So its easy to geuess what segment of the market it will concentrate on.  It’s likely that the part of the Glodina dyehouse equipment (the equipment used in yarn dyeing) will be sent to the IDC wholly owned woven towel manufacturing operation - Colibri Towelling.  The rumor continues that Glodina is now buying more modern knit towel manufacturing machinery to enable it to make towels more efficiently; and a new tumbling machine.
 
I wonder how much money the IDC has allocated for this upgrade?  In total how much money has the South African government now spent on Glodina?  I also wonder how this makes the owners of Zorbatex towels (SEE >>) feel about the IDC using considerable (almost unlimited) state resources to compete with it?  How does the aspirant private sector towelling manufacturer that had plans to create many jobs on the KwaZulu-Natal province’s north coast now feel.  I wonder how worried Botswana’s Nortex Towels (SEE >> - its interesting that they have a “.co.za” website address instead of a “.co.bw” address!) will be by this move?
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EDCON RESCUE PACKAGE – MORE DETAILS EMERGE,  15 April 2019
More details on the EDCON rescue package emerge:
To survive the EDCON apparel retailer needed many of the landlords that it rented property from to reduce their rentals.  EDCON has now revealed that it approached 30 of the about 100 landlords it rents premises from, and that 21 of them agreed to reduce rent for two years, while the turnaround plan was implemented.  In exchange the landlords got equity stakes in EDCON.  Others landlords injected cash in exchange for equity.  It has been reported that landlords now own about 5% of EDCON.  Interestingly, it has been reported that many other retailers have not asked their landlords for rental reductions despite weak economic conditions, and a lack of consumer and business confidence.  READ HERE >>


SOUTH AFRICA – CAPE GOVERNMENT GIVE U$9.5M STIMULUS PACKAGE,  11 April 2019
The Western Cape garment and textile industry, once the backbone of job creation in the province, is set for a major boost with funding from the provincial government.  The provincial Department of Economic Development & Tourism will allocate R132m (U$9.5m) in funding to stimulate the industry and create new jobs.  READ HERE >>


SOUTH AFRICA – CARPET FIRMS TO MERGE?  9 April 2019
Nouwens Carpets (SEE >>) and Van Dyck Floors (SEE >>), will consolidate their operations to streamline and optimise their manufacturing and supply chains.  The CEO of PFE International, the family-owned British investment company that acquired what was then Van Dyck Carpets in 2004, said that the consolidation was still subject to Competition Commission approval.

Although specific details of the restructuring of the two companies are not yet available, both the PFE CEO and the Nouwens Carpets chairman said that this would impact some of the 400 plus employees at the two manufacturing plants in KwaZulu-Natal.  Nouwens currently employs close to 200 people, while PFE International has 205 workers in its carpeting division.  READ HERE >>

Comment
Given the fact that the South African Competition Tribunal recently endorsed a 5-year non-retrenchment pact in the IDC’s takeover of Celrose (see above news brief on EDCON-IDC-Celrose) I wonder if Tribunal will impose the same conditions on this proposed merger?  I am sure that the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) will be demanding that there be non-retrenchment conditions!  I also wonder what South Africa's Crossley Carpets may have to say on this deal.
 
 
SOUTH AFRICA – WHAT WENT WRONG WITH WOOLWORTHS CLOTHES SALES,  7 April 2019
Woolworths reported a 2% decline in sales at its South African clothing retail operations in the 26 weeks to 23 December 2018.  Analysts attribute this to the failure of the company to find a balance between attracting new consumers and keeping the old ones happy.
 
A director of Woolworths has stated that the retailer went “too young”.  "We should be catering for a customer that is anywhere from 25 to 35-plus, but I think we were probably catering for an 18-year-old.  Dresses were too short; there was too much skin showing; so the older, modern customer was completely alienated."
 
The issues in Woolworth’s apparel sales are likely to persist, at least for a while.  The new head of the division, former TFG director Manie Maritz, has to wait out a restraint period and can only come on board in June 2020.  Woolworths chose Maritz, who delivered good growth as MD of Markhams, after interviewing candidates from South Africa and abroad.  Analysts are concerned not only that the waiting period will delay the urgently needed turnaround in the division, but also that Maritz's background is menswear and the problem at Woolworths is women's wear.  READ HERE >> - requires a subscription


SOUTH AFRICA - H&M PARTNERS WITH A SOUTH AFRICAN FASHION DESIGNER,  15 April 2019
H&M has announced its first African collaboration with a South African fashion designer - they have partnered with Palesa Mokubung and her fashion label, Mantsho (SEE >>).  The collection, which will be made available from 15 August 2019, will be sold in all South African stores as well as exclusive H&M flagship stores around the world, and on all H&M online markets.  READ HERE >>
 
Comment
Many in South Africa – including the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) appear to be pleased with the H&M initiative (SEE >>).  As was reported in previous editions of this blog / newsletter (SEE >>African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor” No.9 of - 2 April 2019) the decision by H&M to start buying locally designed product was most probably something that H&M did not envisage.  They did so as a mea cupla for a racist sweatshirt advert they advertised in South Africa in 2018. 
 
But buying from a designer does not really create any jobs in South Africa.  I wonder how many individual garments H&M will make? Where will these garments be made – in which country and which factory?   Perhaps they will be made in Ethiopia where some African garment workers earn less than US$35 a month!  The garments designed by Mokubang will retail in South Africa in a price range of between R599 (US$42.50) to R1,500 (US$106.50).

 
UGANDA – DROUGHT!  9 April 2019
The Ugandan Government has warned of impending famine in most parts of the country, cautioning traders to limit food exports and families to start food rationing.  The State Minister for Agriculture, issued the warning, attributing the looming famine to the delayed rain and drought that has stretched beyond March into April.  This has resulted in crop failure.  “We are certainly not going to have enough food.  Our appeal to farmers is not to take everything to the market.”
 
At the beginning of March 2019, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority, the government agency for weather forecast, predicted that most parts of the country would receive sufficient rain.  Then they said farmers were free to start planting their crops.  The forecast followed some occasional showers that enticed farmers to start planting crops, but the skies soon dried-up and crops wilted under scorching sunshine.  READ HERE >>


UGANDA – COTTON SECTOR PROBE, 15 April 2019
National Planning Authority (NPA) has said they are engaging different actors in the cotton value chain to understand what went wrong with the cotton industry.  The probe that seeks to form the basis of revamping cotton growing comes at a time when the industry has nearly collapsed.  READ HERE >>

Comment
I apologise this is not the best piece of journalism.  The report most probably relates to an initiative by the Msingi development project (SEE >> - a project funded by Gatsby Africa and the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID)) to assist the Ugandan government to develop a cotton, textile and apparel value chain development strategy.



MALAWI – COTTON OUTPUT EXPECTED TO DECLINE,  9 April 2019
The second round of the 2018/19 Malawi Agricultural Production Estimates Survey which is conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation & Water Development every year to assess production and productivity on crops, livestock and fisheries, has suggested that wheat and cotton production has been declining over the years and will further go down this year.  READ HERE >>


MAURITIUS – NEW STRATEGIES FOR THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY,  11 April 2019
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce & Consumer Protection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration & International Trade, and the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) are jointly collaborating to devise an industrial strategy and policy for Mauritius which will help address the current challenges in the manufacturing sector.  One of the sectors being looked at is the opportunities of developing regional value chains in the textile sector.  READ HERE >>


MOROCCO – TEXTILE JOBS CREATED,  9 April 2019
Over 400,000 new jobs have been created in Morocco's industry over the 2014-2018 period, so says the Industry Minister.  This represents 81% of the targets set as part of the government's plan for 2020.  The car sector was key for the industry with 116,611 new jobs, or 28.8% of the total, followed by textile with 79,000 new jobs, offshoring (69,932), the food industry (63.198), metallurgic and mechanic industries (19,776).  Construction and aviation came last, respectively with 11,302 and 8,603 jobs.  READ HERE >>


UGANDA - SILK PROJECT,  9 April 2019
Hundreds of farmers in Sheema District are set to benefit from UGX764m (US$204,000) sericulture project that is being rolled out by Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) and Ankole Western University (AWU).  The five-year project is set to train farmers in sericulture, and make this venture key in sustaining livelihoods among households.  The Minister for Science, Technology & Innovation said sericulture in Sheema dates as far back as 2003, but the programme could not take root because of several challenges including lack of funding and limited uptake by farmers.  READ HERE >>


GHANA – CUSTOMS VALUATION FOR TEXTILES REDUCED BY 50%,  15 April 2019
At a meeting held by the Economic Management Team, the Ghana Vice President announced that the government had reduced the benchmark value for imports by 50% effective 4 April 2019.
 
The Association of Ghana Industries is crying foul over the import duty value cuts and is predicting that it will collapse local businesses as there will be an influx of imports that will displace locally manufactured products.  The announcement of the import duties cuts has also heightened fears of local manufacturers of textiles.  The General Secretary of the Textile, Garment & Leather Employees Union (TEGLU) has described the cuts as disastrous in the context of the stimulus package provided by the government to revive ailing textile companies.  READ HERE >>

 
SOUTH AFRICA – CHINESE EXPORT BAN ON WOOL UPDATE,  10 April 2019
During the recent International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) Congress (Venice, Italy), the head of delegation of the South African Wool Industry representatives, met with the Chinese delegation.  The purpose of the meeting was to obtain first-hand information of the current status of the suspension by China of all wool, both processed and greasy because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in South Africa, and to establish a platform for the discussion of biosecurity issues and other possible trade barriers between the two countries for the trade of wool.
 
The Chinese delegation shared the following insights into the current status:
  • in 2018 there was a reshuffle within the Chinese Government departments, including Agriculture and Customs
  • the outbreak of other animal diseases in China is receiving priority from Chinese authorities
  • the repeated outbreak of FMD in South Africa is of great concern to China
  • to undertake further bilateral trade visits between the two countries will not currently yield any positive results
  • the current difficult trading environment between China and the US is currently also receiving priority from Chinese authorities to resolve this issue.

The view was expressed by the Chinese delegation that the key issue would be to regain FMD-free status but that there could still be a cooling-off period imposed by the Chinese Government after South Africa regains its FMD-free status.  Inter-governmental communication at the highest level will remain critical to expedite the process.  READ HERE >>
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The South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries' 1 April 2019 “Foot and Mouth Disease: Outbreak & Surveillance Update” can be  READ HERE >>.
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ZIMBABWE – COTTON PRICE SET BY GOVERNMENT,  12 April 2019
In a surprise move, Zimbabwe’s Cabinet announced that it had approved new producer prices for cotton, maize, soya bean and other small grains.  The prices are in RTGS Dollars, much to the surprise of producers, especially cotton farmers, who expected to be paid part of their proceeds in foreign currency.
 
“Cabinet approved the proposal by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate & Rural Resettlement to review producer prices for maize, small grains, wheat, soya beans and cotton as follows: … cotton RTGS$1,950 per metric tonne.  … In US dollar terms the prices are now aligned to the import parity prices in the region,” read part of the post Cabinet briefing.
 
Just a day earlier, state media had carried a story that cotton farmers would be paid half their money in foreign currency. This move had been hailed as a panacea to reduced productivity and side marketing which has plagued the industry over the past few seasons. Now, it looks like there are no payments will be made in foreign currency.  READ HERE >>
For the nerds among you the RTGS dollar is explained here:  SEE >>


ETHIOPIA – TRADE UNION FEDERATION VISIT THE UNITED STATES,  11 April 2019
The democratisation process that began after the current Ethiopian Prime Minister took office one year ago will run aground unless its citizens become increasingly rooted in inclusive civil society institutions, like trade unions, that are capable of overcoming deeply entrenched ethnic, cultural and geographic divisions, said Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) President in Washington, DC.  READ HERE >>

Comment
It understood that while in the US that CETU had discussions with the Solidarity Centre (SEE >> - a project of the American Federation of Labour & Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO)).  I predict that significant US resources will be directed at developing CETU’s affiliate in the Ethiopian textile and apparel industry. It seems ludicrous to me that US (and other nation-state) buyers of Ethiopian made apparel products can externalise the spotlight and pressures that will be placed on them by some factions of the global labour movement and labour rights non-governmental organisations.  Unless these apparel brands and retailers start being proactive … as they say in the TV series Game of Thrones … “winter is coming”!


ETHIOPIA – DRY PORT TO CUT EXPORT COSTS,  6 April 2019
The state monopoly shipping giant, Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise, will implement tariff cuts of between 50-70% within a month on products exported through Modjo Dry Port.  The tariff reduction will apply to all the services the port provides including cleaning the containers, containerising the goods, transportation and loading and unloading costs.  READ HERE >>


KENYA – TRADE TIES WITH US BEING STRENGTHENED,   9 April 2019
The United States and Kenya held the first meeting of the US-Kenya Trade & Investment Working Group on 3-8 April 2019.  The Working Group, established by President Trump and President Kenyatta, will explore ways to deepen the trade and investment ties between the two countries and lay the groundwork for a stronger future trade relationship.  The delegations were led by US Trade Representative Robert and the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Trade & Industry, and included representatives from a wide range of US and Kenyan government departments and agencies.
 
Under the Working Group, the US and Kenya initially agreed to work together in the following areas:
  • maximise the remaining years of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA)
  • pursue exploratory talks on a future bilateral trade and investment frameworkstrengthen commercial cooperation
  • develop short-term solutions to reduce barriers to trade and investment.
The next Working Group meeting in Nairobi in June 2019.  READ HERE >>
 
Comment
For Kenya – its continued access to the US marketplace for its apparel producers is key.  I bet that the South African government will be watching this negotiation very closely – and I guess they may be concerned.  I think South Africa’s current trade minister had hoped that South Africa would be in the front of the queue to conclude a preferential trade deal with the US.  It is known that the first sub-Saharan African (SSA) country to conclude a trade deal with the US will set a trade agreement template for other SSA-US trade deals – and Minister Davies is concerned that other African states may offer too many concessions in their dealings with the US which would be bad for South Africa.
 
 
SOUTH AFRICA – TFG BEST EMPLOYER AWARD,  15 April 2019
Fashion lifestyle retailer, TFG, was presented with the “Best South African Employer Brand” award at the 14th Employer Branding Awards which recently took place in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Hosted by the Employer Branding Institute, the award ceremony celebrated and acknowledged top organisations and individuals from various industries across South Africa.  READ HERE >>
 
Comment
I wonder if the independent panel undertaking this analysis considered the views of the many workers – in South Africa, and beyond the country’s shores – that make garments for the group.  Yes!  TFG does have a vendor “Supply Chain and Human Rights Statement” (READ HERE >>) – but I do wonder what kinds of resources the TFG group puts into ensuring that all their vendors abide by terms of their vendor supply chain and human rights statement - and the sourcing country’s minimum labour laws. 
 
But let's not single out only TFG.  What about South Africa’s other giant fashion retailers?  What steps are they taking to ensure that their suppliers abide by their social and environmental codes?  In this regard I am mainly referring to the likes of Woolworths, Mr Price (although I know that some of their staff have been making serious efforts to help the company clean-up social conditions in its supply chain), Truworths, EDCON, Pepkor (the Chair of this company is a former trade unionist), Queenspark (the Chair of this company is a former trade unionist), etc.
 
 
ETHIOPIA – EVIL BARBIE VISITS TEXTILE PLANT,  14 April 2019
President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, toured businesses – including a textile manufacturing facility - run by women in Ethiopia while promoting a White House global economic programme for women.  READ HERE >>

Comment
A Trump programme promoting women – what an oxymoron!  She should start at home – first, by talking to daddy!
 
and in the context of minimum wages - which is an important issue in Ethiopia - in an interview with a US news channel - Fox News - in February 2019, Ms. Silver Spoon had the following to say when giving an opinion on the minimum-guaranteed-income plank of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal plan:  “I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum [wage] is not something most people want,”  …  “They want the ability to be able to secure a job.  They want the ability to live in a country where’s there’s the potential for upward mobility.”  READ HERE >>

At one stage Ms. Inherited Wealth used to get her branded shoes made in Ethiopia.  READ HERE >>
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RESEARCH

Building an Industrial Workforce in Ethiopia: Historical Lessons and Current Dynamics”.  Carlos Oya, SOAS, University of London.  A pre-proof version of Chapter 38 in forthcoming “The Oxford Handbook of the Ethiopian Economy”.  Edited by: F Cheru, C Cramer, and A Oqubay.  Oxford University Press.  2019.
Synopsis:  An overview of the factors and dynamics involved in the creation and formation of an industrial workforce in an agrarian-based economy is given.  The main argument is that the process of building an industrial working class is uneven, protracted, and requires interventions and important economic and social shifts over long periods.  Historical lessons of early and late industrialisers are highly relevant for contemporary Ethiopia as it seems that history does repeat itself in some ways.  The paper focuses on a number of structural obstacles to the process of building an industrial workforce, particularly: addressing socio-cultural barriers and the problem of ‘work cultures’ and work ethic; sourcing workers, managing and especially housing migrant labour; scarcity of employable skills (including soft skills); mismatch in expectations between employers and workers, largely related to wage-setting mechanisms, non-wage conditions, and labour productivity.  The full paper can be  READ HERE >>.


Cotton: World Markets & Trade".  US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  Washington, DC, United States.  April 2019.
Synopsis:  Consumption for 2018/19 is forecast down slightly, mostly in Turkey due to its recent economic problems.  Trade is projected down marginally on lower imports by Turkey, India, and Vietnam which offset higher imports by China.  Lower exports are forecast for Burkina Faso and India with higher exports for Australia and Turkey.  Global production is virtually unchanged. US consumption is lowered, and stocks are raised.  The full report can be  READ HERE >>.


"2018 Tanzania Agricultural Biotechnology Report".  US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  Washington, DC, United States.  April 2019.
Synopsis:  In 2017, the Tanzanian government relaxed the “strict liability” biosafety regime that had de-facto prevented plant scientists from testing GE crops outside the lab.  Tanzania recognises that biotechnology has a set of novel and powerful tools with the potential to foster sustainable development in various sectors of the economy including agriculture, health, industries, as well as the environment.  The government’s commitment towards the promotion and application of biotechnology is articulated in the National Biosafety Framework of 2004 and National Biotechnology Policy of 2010.  While the Government has put in place all the necessary policies, legal and institutional frameworks for safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology, progress in research and utilisation of GE technologies has been rather slow, mainly due to lack of facilitative biosafety regulations and inadequate knowledge and understanding of biotechnology and biosafety issues by various stakeholders.  The full report can be  READ HERE >>.
DATA

TOP 15 SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN IMPORTERS
OF WORN CLOTHING (HS6309)
FROM THE UNITED STATES (2017-2018)
Some Comments & Observations
In 2018 Rwanda decided to maintain its ban on the import of used clothing into the country so that it was able to develop its textile and garment value chain.  In response, the US Administration removed its AGOA trade preferences for apparel products.  In 2018 Rwanda imported US origin worn clothing valued at US$505,300 (2017 - US$112,412) - although it's likely that its imports would have been greater as it would have received US origin worn clothing that was initially cleared in other EAC Member States (especially from Kenya and Tanzania). In 2018 Rwanda exported US$2,985,166 (2017 - US$1,495,579) worth of garments (HS61+62) to the US.

Uganda - which joined Kenya and Tanzania in retreating from the East African Community (EAC) worn clothing ban - imported worn clothing worth US$911,832 (2017 - US$1,136,201) from the US.  In 2018 Uganda exported US$79,603 (2017 - US$369,117) worth of garments  (HS61+62) to the US.
SNIPPETS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
 
UNITED STATES – TERMINATION OF INDIAN AND TURKEY GSP PRIVILEGES
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA - SEE >>) signed on to a letter, with 437 other companies and organisations, to Congress expressing concerns over the Trump Administration's recent announcement it would terminate Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status for Turkey and India.  They argued that the move would raise the price of goods.  The AAFA expressed a concern that a future GSP review may also affect Thailand and Indonesia.  READ HERE >>


US & UK RETAIL: CORESIGHT RESEARCH STORE OPENINGS AND CLOSURES
Coresight Research tracks store openings and closures for a select group of retailers in the US and the UK, as well as major US retail bankruptcies.  In the US, year-to-date announced closures have exceeded the total we recorded for the full year 2018.  So far this year, US retailers have announced 5,994 store closures and 2,641 store openings.  This compares to 5,864 closures and 3,239 openings for the full year 2018.  Pharmacy retailer Fred’s plans to shut 159 stores by the end of May.  Apparel retailer Levi’s has announced plans to open 100 stores in its fiscal year 2019 that ends in November. 

Year to date, UK retail announced store openings and closures running almost neck and neck, with announced store closures at 322 and store openings at 351.  Department store chain Debenhams has fallen into administration.  READ HERE >>


US RETAIL: CORESIGHT RESEARCH - INVENTORY LEVELS
In this first of our quarterly US Retail Inventory Tracker reports we analyse inventory trends among our Coresight 100 US retailers.
  • Most retailers increased inventory even as the holiday season ended, with looming tariff increases a major cause: Retailers pre-bought expecting higher future import tariffs on products from China.
  • Apparel specialty retailers similarly piled up stock ahead of the potential tariff increase, such as specialty retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods and Burlington Stores.
  • Department stores held inventory levels lower. Macy’s merchandise inventory was impacted by a fire, Kohl’s invested to optimize inventory, so the company was able to reduce stock and increase turnover.
  • General-merchandise retailers, such as Walmart and Dollar General, also increased inventory ahead of tariff increases.
  • Luxury retailer inventory levels increased due to planned investments in store expansion and assortment mix optimization.  READ HERE >>

NOTE
To read the full report CORESIGHT REPORTS – you will be required to subscribe – some full Coresight Research reports are available without a paid subscription.
UPCOMING EVENTS
SO WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE
AFRICAN COTTON & TEXTILE INDUSTRIES FEDERATION
(ACTIF)
"ORIGIN AFRICA" (SEE >>) TRADE SHOW AS NO DATES HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED?

 
  • Global Supply Chain Labour Challenges - Ethiopia & Bangladesh - Workshop - 14 May 2019.  Copenhagen, Denmark.   The "NYU Stern Center for Business & Human Rights" will examine global supply chain labour challenges facing garment brands sourcing in emerging markets, with a particular focus on Bangladesh and Ethiopia.  The panel will draw on the original research that has been undertaken over the last five years by the Center.  It will address the broader political and social content in these countries and the associated risk to global brands.  It will also focus on best practices relating to purchasing practices, factory safety issues, managing sub-contracting relationships and other topical issues and explore lessons learned in Bangladesh and how these lessons can be applied in frontier markets like Ethiopia. Register by contacting:  vanderso@stern.nyu.edu
  • Source Africa - Trade Show - 12-14 June 2019.  Cape Town, South Africa.  For more information:  www.sourceafrica.co.za
  • Premiertex Africa 2019 - Trade Show - 18-20 June 2019.  Nairobi, Kenya.  For more information:  www.premiertex-africa.com
  • Destination Africa - Trade Show - 9-11 November 2019.  Cairo, Egypt.  For more information:  www.destination-africa.org
  • Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week (ASFW) - Trade Show - 9-12 November 2019.  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  For more information:  www.asfw-online.com
  • International Textile Machinery Exhibition - Africa - Trade Show - 14-16 February 2020.  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  For more information:  www.itme-africa.com
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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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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