Domestic manufacturers are in the near future expected to reap rewards of their hard work as a number of retailers are beginning to show interest in procuring their goods.
The association’s chief executive officer, Mantlha Sankoloba said there are several textile entities or manufacturers in general, who contribute enormously to the economy through employment creation. Hence, she said, retail entities should come on board to procure from them.
She said BEMA has in place the Supplier Development programme and other schemes forged in partnership with various stakeholders who exist to identify specific needs of manufacturers and help position them to utilise trade opportunities. Recently, BEMA entered into a working partnership with Ackermans, a local clothing retailer.
“This partnership comes after our efforts and pleas for local manufacturers to be given support,” Sankoloba said. “It is in this regard that we have formed partnership with Ackermans, the nature of this partnership is in such a manner that we will serve the function of identifying local suppliers/manufacturers of uniform to Ackermans.”
Sankoloba added that the Association desires to be inclusive in prospecting for suppliers. She said it was in this regard that suppliers will be selected on the basis of quality standards and capacity to meet the demands of Ackermans as per their request.
“We have been working towards deducing a sound landscape for our local manufacturers to be able to trade with the rest of the region with ease as the Association serves the role of ‘Private Sector Chair’ at the Southern African Customs Union technical reference group, and also Co-Chair the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” she added.
The BEMA boss noted that tackling local matters should be made a key priority highlighting that once such issues are addressed, it would be easier to delve into the international trade matters. She further said the country’s inability to make use of international trade opportunities such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreements stems from the fact that local manufacturers are not capacitated enough to seize such key opportunities.
“It is important to understand the specific needs of each sub-sector within the overall manufacturing industry; every sub-sector has got its own unique set of needs. However, the common needs across every sector would be, urgent support from government, this could be in the form of procurement and ease of doing business,” she said.
Lesotho has ceased the AGOA opportunity as its textile industry has created over 45,000 jobs while exports to the United States market stood at $310 million (P3.1 billion) in 2020. Apparel represented $ 258m of the exports. The same cannot be said of Botswana where the last textile exports under AGOA from Botswana were in 2017 and consisted of women’s garments worth about $970,000.