Trade promotion body ZimTrade says the textile and footwear industries made significant progress on the export front in 2021 as the country continued to make inroads in regional markets.
Statistics show that exports of these products in the first eight months of 2021 to August increased from $17.7 million in 2020 to $32.3 million in 2021, which translates to an increase of 85% .
According to ZimTrade, the growth follows increased demand for Zimbabwean goods such as protective clothing in regional markets such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Traditionally, Zimbabwe’s textile market sector exports products mainly to South Africa with an estimated export market share of 91.74%, Zambia (1.91%), Germany (0.34 %), Malawi with an export contribution of 0.12% and Mozambique.
“As more buyers look forward to sourcing protective clothing in Zimbabwe based on the superior quality of local products and new markets are unlocked, projections indicate that the sector’s exports will continue. to grow,” ZimTrade said in its monthly publications.
Textile manufacturing was once a big industry in Zimbabwe, but the sector came to a halt when local clothing lines became uncompetitive with cheap imports, which flooded the market.
The sector experienced a number of difficulties during the period 2000-2010, which saw businesses close down and a number of people lose their jobs.
Currently, a small number, less than 10%, manufacture for export despite the growth of the regional market and the inroads made in Europe in recent years.
On the other hand, in footwear production, the footwear industry is on the road to recovery after suffering severe blows during the economically turbulent years between 2001 and 2008.
At its peak in the 1990s, the sector produced 8 million pairs of leather shoes and most of the country’s shoe factories have closed down over the years.
According to ZimTrade, the leather and leather products sector has the potential to contribute to the Zimbabwean economy through job creation and income generation.
As a result, the sector was prioritized for development in the National Trade Policy 2012-2016 and the Industrial Development Policy 2012-2016.
Currently, the National Development Strategy (SDN 2021-2022) has also identified the leather sector as one of the key value chains.
In addition, the government is committed to recapitalizing the leather and footwear subsector to increase industrial capacity utilization and boost exports through the production of value-added products such as finished leather , shoes and other leather products.
Towards the end of 2021, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Prof. Mthuli Ncube indicated that his office was targeting the cotton sector value chain, particularly the garment and textile manufacturing value chain. leather because they are export-oriented, a key cog in the country’s export drive. earnings.