Botswana’s textile industry faces collapse due to invasion by Asian businesses which are said to have taken the full control of the industry pushing away locals from it, Women in Business Association of Botswana (WIBA) has claimed.
WIBA members raised the complaint on Thursday in Gaborone during the SheTrades Botswana breakfast seminar and asked the minister of Investment, Trade and industry Peggy Serame to intervene.
WIBA president Nametso Carr moaned that most of registered businesses run by women in the textile industry have been surely but slowly collapsing as Chinese are their major competitors.
“This warning comes amid massive closure and failure to make profits by the local small and medium textile businesses which are fully registered. We plea with the ministry to help us to control the influx of Asians mainly the Chinese who push us away in textile sector,” Carr said.
She said most of the local textile producers who suffer the heat most are women who do school uniforms through government tenders as Chinese shops also reproduce similar outfits.
This, she said, end up killing business for those women because Chinese shops sell at lower prices and therefore attract more customers while those who supply government don’t sell.
As a result of little support for local textile manufacturers’ goods, Carr buttressed that Botswana textiles are failing to fully penetrate African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) market space.
Under AGOA deal that was enacted by the American Congress in May 2000, virtually all goods including textiles made in eligible Sub-Saharan countries enter USA market duty-free.
Local textile and apparel producers seem to be giving up hope of exporting to USA market under the duty-free AGOA provisions, preferring instead to focus in the local market which is also grappling with serious competition from other players. The result is that it is an industry teetering on the verge of collapse. Textiles are the principal export for Botswana under AGOA towards the lucrative USA market.
Local fashion designer Thabiso Dibeela of ThabieD said Batswana fashion designers have the potential to make competitive designs but end up giving hope due to foreigners’ competition.
She pleaded with government to at least come up with a quota system to spare certain space for procurement of locally produced goods in the textile industry to parry competition.
According to Dibeela, government should also get on benchmarking mission to the smooth sailing textile industry of Lesotho where she said local people are in full control of the industry.
Other business women also complained that they find difficult to get business from the government, saying that government procurement provisions have a lot of requirements.
Serame while responding said government will keep an eye on the textile industry, adding that the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPABD) Act is revised therefore indicating that a provision could be made that local textile creators should be prioritised.
She said the ministry is reviewing the incubation model of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) to also mentor more women in textiles as well. In addition, the minister noted that the SheTrades programme is aimed at connecting three million women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses to global markets by 2021.
She insisted that the agenda will open more market opportunities for local women in business. SheTrades was endorsed in 2017 by World Trade Organisation (WTO) and was singed in Botswana in October 2018 by trade ministry which is also responsible for piloting it too.