Global clothing manufacturer PVH Corp is winding up operations in Ethiopia. This could deal a blow to Ethiopia’s once rapidly growing economy and has been prompted by the US’ decision to cut Ethiopia from a US trade program, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, because of violations of internationally recognised human rights. The sanction goes into effect in January 2022. Unrest in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has been marked by gang-rapes, forced expulsions and manmade famine. Thousands of people have been killed.
As the crisis spreads – and if Ethiopia does lose AGOA eligibility – companies will increasingly be unable to source from Ethiopia. This will hurt Ethiopia’s economy, particularly the women who comprise the bulk of the workforce in the country’s apparel industry.
PVH Corp’s brands include Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. It has been a marquee occupant of Ethiopia's model industrial park in the city of Hawassa, where Africa’s second-most populous country has made clear its aspirations of rapid, Chinese-style development. Businesses like PVH had entered Ethiopia because of the government’s push in recent years to build a network of industrial parks to make clothing and footwear for export, along with the country’s large population of more than 110 million people and wages that are significantly lower than even places like Bangladesh and Cambodia.