Textile sector upbeat, despite AGOA export collapse

Mbaakanyi says the sector is on the recovery PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Mbaakanyi says the sector is on the recovery PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The country’s textile and apparel exports to the United States under AGOA, fell to just US$3,000 (P32, 100) in 2018, the first numbers showing the impact of the relocation to Lesotho of the last exporting firm.

Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act’s duty and quota free provision, Botswana textile firms were shipping off P1.8 billion in stock to the US at the peak in 2008. Becky Geiger, an international trade specialist in the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles, Consumer Goods and Materials told BusinessWeek that the Botswana AGOA exports were sliding. “Imports from Botswana are so low in value that they did not meet the threshold in 2018 for imports from the country to be published in the major shippers report,” she said in response to written enquiries.

“Our data shows that textile and apparel imports from Botswana fell from $4.8 million in 2016, to $993,000 in 2017 and were only $3,000 in 2018.” Meanwhile, Lesotho continues to power higher AGOA textile and apparel exports, reaching US$321 million in 2018, 11% higher than 2017. Carapparel Botswana, Botswana’s last AGOA exporter, is reportedly thriving in Lesotho, which provides textile exports with a range of state-funded incentives. Lesotho, however, is heavily criticised for providing the incentives despite limited benefits to Basotho, with the factories there enjoying state support but paying “slave wages” and remitting little to national coffers.  While the local textile sector had previously been pushing for the Financial Assistance Policy (FAP) or similar type incentives, recent interventions by government are improving the outlook for local operators.

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