Forex shortages stifle clothing manufacturers

HARARE - Clothing manufacturers in Zimbabwe have not been spared by the foreign currency (forex) shortages that are causing mayhem across all sectors of the country’s economy.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing foreign currency shortages for the past two decades, with the situation becoming more acute in the past three months.

Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers Association chairperson Jeremy Youmans told the Daily News recently that the sector was importing 90 percent of its fabric requirements because the country does not have the capacity to satisfy it needs.

Because of the forex shortages, Youmans said it would be a herculean task to try and revive giant companies such as David Whitehead Textiles Limited and Kadoma Textiles.

“The clothing sector can take all of this output many times over, but has to import the 90 percent of fabrics required which are not made in Zimbabwe. As a sector, we continue to support the textile mills as best we can. In clothing, we continue to see growth but it is constrained by the restricted access to forex and the complexities of doing business in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The shortages have already forced most clothing retailers to hike prices by more than 300 percent citing the dire need to acquire foreign currency to keep up with demand.

To survive, the retailers are charging prices that mirror obtaining exchange rates on the parallel market.

While this has helped in maintaining profit margins and preserving value, demand is no longer at the same level as before because buying clothes is now considered to be a luxury many cannot afford.

Many Zimbabweans now rely on second-hand clothes that are colloquially referred to as “mazitye” with the thriving informal sector compounding the woes for clothing manufacturers and formal retailers.

Youmans called on the country to support local industries, saying tobacco, cotton, and minerals will always be major contributors to the country’s economy.

 

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