Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Morocco’s success in exports of textiles and clothing products and lessons for Zambia

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By Edward Chisanga

Introduction

In my continued colloquy about Zambia’s prospects to pursue value addition, my last article articulated Morocco’s prepotency over other African countries excluding only South Africa in global competitiveness in exports of manufactured goods. In that article, my main message was that Zambian leaders should visit Morocco to learn something about its success in exports of manufactured goods. Today, I share one product or sector that is driving Morocco’s competitiveness and integration in the world economy which many African countries including Zambia are either recoiling from in horror or simply failing to join.

As a methodology, I use Unctadstat, my favorite database to share some statistics in my research about Morocco’s thriving export products.
One of Morocco’s rising star products

One of Morocco’s rising star export products to the world are textiles and clothing. Textiles and clothing are often perceived as a gateway to industrialization. Experts site the UK, Germany, the USA and now China, Viet Nam, Bangladesh and others as examples of industrial countries. Viet Nam has overtaken Africa in exports of manufactured goods partly due to its robust textiles and clothing sector. Bangladesh, an Asian least developed country’s global exports of $38 billion textiles and clothing products in 2021 was twofold that of Africa. In the backyard, Mauritius is emerging as another successful story in Africa in value addition in textiles and clothing.

Morocco ranks number one in Africa including South Africa in global exports of textiles and clothing products which accounts for 7% of its total. Figure 1 below shows the rising trend of over two decades of exports of these products. While the liberalization of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) in 2005 in the World Trade Organization led to the expiry of quotas which negatively affected many African countries’ exports over the years, Morocco surprisingly maintained its forward-looking and growing trend. Lesotho and Madagascar are two key exporters of this product and which have been adversely affected.

Zambia must revive Mulungushi textiles

At only $78 million, Zambia’s exports of textiles and clothing products in the world are lackluster and almost non-existent in comparison with Bangladesh. If Zambia had maintained its hold on its manufacturing industry in textiles and clothing under Mulungushi and Kafue in particular during President Kaunda’s rule, we can extrapolate that the country may have made many successes in manufacturing. However, the activity was prematurely stopped by policies largely dictated by foreign forces.

Although there have been calls to revive the Mulungushi textiles, it appears that there has not been enough capitalization or financial investment. With China well established in our country, and the biggest global exporter of textiles and clothing, accounting for about 35%, one would expect much more in its partnership with our country in value addition in this sector. I personally have heard many public pronouncements coming from Zambia’s past leadership about revival of Mulungushi textiles but have seen nil in action. Although good economic governance requires that citizens are aware of what government is doing in economic activities, it is appropriate to state that few Zambians know about the plan to revive Mulungushi textiles.

Despite reforms in the WTO of this sector referred to earlier, and the concomitant global competition from more industrialized countries, including in Asia, Zambia has unbridled free export markets for textiles and clothing products in the USA and EU in particular and, shortly in Africa, adding on to the SADC market. Therefore, it is not further market access that should be government’s priority. Instead, government will do well if it prioritized value addition in terms of production, productivity and product competitiveness by learning from others like Morocco. One way is to simply visit the country and colloquy with the government and private sector.

Concluding

I visited Morocco (Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakesh) several times on United Nations missions with the government. I learn a lot. Through statistics, I understand clearly where Morocco is coming from, where it is and where it is heading in terms of economic transformation in general, and value addition in particular. Please go to Morocco and colloquy with your counterparts.

My next colloquy will be about electrical machinery, Morocco’s second important product accounting for about 14% of its total exports, that is a key input in its continued pursuit of global competitiveness in value addition.

3 COMMENTS

  1. When I opened my leather bag and shoes business, Zambian were not willing to pay the same price they pay for similar products designed by whlte imperialist. So I decided to move my business KAIZAR to dubai. Search for my business and order something for your angry wlves. Women love bags

  2. Zambia needs sustained training of machinists and artisans , and………..

    More importantly total effort by GRZ in

    ‘ buy zambian ‘

    Campain………the buy zambian campain can propel sales of zambian products to unimaginable levels.

  3. Organisation is lacking in zambia………

    Look at FAZ…………….

    internationally , chipolopolo kit is in high demand from diasporans…………

    But , alas , no one has the brains or drive at FAZ to sell official zambian kit on line…………

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