GENEVA — The repeal of restrictive sourcing guidelines and continued duty free access to the U.S. market augur well for African apparel exports, according to a new United Nations report.
“African apparel exporters to the United States were given a new boost when the U.S. Congress repealed AGOA’s ‘abundant supply’ provision in October 2008,” said the U.N. study, referring to the African Growth & Opportunity Act.
The “Economic Development in Africa 2009” report concludes that as a result of the repeal, apparel suppliers from about 12 African countries, including Lesotho, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Botswana, could enhance their exports to the U.S. market.
The provision restricted the use by an apparel manufacturer of fabrics originating from non-AGOA countries. The need to comply with the provision had also “created uncertainty” among apparel importers, notes the report compiled by the U.N. Conference on Trade & Development.
However, U.N. and apparel industry analysts point out that given the contraction in U.S. apparel imports in 2008 from many nations, including AGOA countries, and with the decline continuing this year, it might take a while before the African exporters see a boost in shipments.
In 2008, exports of apparel to the U.S. from Lesotho fell 11.4 percent to $340 million compared with a year earlier, Madagascar’s dropped 3.6 percent to $279 million, Kenya’s dipped 0.9 percent to $247 million, Swaziland’s decreased 7.7 percent to $125 million and Mauritius’ declined 11.5 percent to $102 million, according to estimates by the International Textiles & Clothing Bureau.
Habib Ouane, director of UNCTAD’s division for Africa, was upbeat African countries in about three to five years might become a more attractive destination for apparel manufacturers now located in Asian nations, such as China. Ouane said in China, a combination of factors from mounting labor costs, environmental pressures and an appreciating national currency, especially if the yuan becomes fully convertible, could open new opportunities for lower-cost African nations.
But he conceded that for African nations to benefit from an erosion in Chinese competitiveness in labor-intensive manufacturing industries, like apparel, they would need to substantially boost their manufacturing capacity and infrastructure for facilitating trade.
Analysts at the ITCB agreed Africa’s lower labor cost could divert some apparel investment from China to Africa, but added even if the biggest emerging nations lose out, other countries in the region — such as India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia — are likely to dominate the sector for a long time.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews