Turning cotton to clothing adds value to Zimbabwe’s trade (en)
Adding value to goods and services can enable African economies to diversify their production base and create greater trade opportunities The Deputy Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Dorothy Tembo said this at the launch of Zimbabwe’s Cotton-to-Clothing strategy in Bulawayo on 26 September 2014.
‘Cotton-to-clothing is a prime example of value-added goods,’ said Ms Tembo. ‘We are moving in the right direction by seeking to build on the areas where Africa has comparative advantage – natural goods, skills and rich cultural and design heritage – and turning this into a market with the potential to increase incomes. Cotton farming contributes to the livelihoods of more than one million Zimbabweans through capital intensive sub-sectors, such as spinning and textiles, have played an integral role in the country’s industrialization in its move into the fashion and clothing industry. The sector has an important food security implications, from the cotton seed processing by-products that can be utilized as animal feed, to cotton seed oil that is used for human consumption.’
Ms Tembo said the cotton-to-clothing sector offers great potential for regional integration. She added that synergies can be leveraged across the value chain, and the regional approach offers significant opportunities for Zimbabwe to supersede national limitations and capitalize on its geographic location. Ms Tembo said the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has contributed significantly to the Cotton-to-Clothing Strategy in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce and ITC in support of the economic and development potential of the country. She noted that Zimbabwe’s neighbours can also benefit from its economic recovery.
‘Rebuilding competitiveness is essential for this once vibrant sector to harness regional and global demand. This strategy identifies key regional and international markets for a range of cotton-based goods with a view to better leverage Zimbabwe’s existing and future preferential agreements.’
The Cotton-to-Clothing Strategy which is aimed at improving Zimbabwe’s cotton marketing system, is expected to lead to a 70% increase in yields within five years. The annual seed cotton production is targeted to reach 450,000 tonnes in the same period – more than double the current production – which will enhance the income of 250,000 smallholder farmers. Increased ginning capacity is expected to drive greater exports, including a 60% increase in annual exports of lint. An estimated USD 110 million worth of exports of textiles and garments is targeted by 2019.
Ms Tembo stressed that the successful implementation of the Cotton-to-Clothing Strategy can bring about socio-economic transformation through increased job opportunities, export development and prosperity. She acknowledged the financial support of the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Secretariat for their contribution to Zimbabwe’s Cotton-to-Clothing Strategy through the EU-Africa Partnership on Cotton.
In addition to the Cotton-to-Clothing Strategy, Ms Tembo said ITC is also implementing the EU-funded Trade and Private Sector Development Project to help build Zimbabwe’s private sector infrastructure to better equip them to compete internationally. This, she said, is to facilitate access to new markets by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Zimbabwe. Ms Tembo pointed out that the launch of the Zimbabwe-Europe Business Information Centre by ITC’s Executive Director Arancha González in August this year, was also geared towards assisting SMEs.
‘ITC sees SMEs as the incubators of growth, and as necessary anchors for development. We are honoured to accompany Zimbabwe on the road to greater prospects through enhanced trade,’ said Ms Tembo.