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Imports are a challenge for Zimbabwe’s apparel sector

Clothing companies in Zimbabwe are finding it difficult to import raw materials. Reason: banks failing to allocate foreign currency for imports. Companies have the orders, the capacity, and skills, but without raw materials, they cannot operate.

The industry needs an allocation of $4million of foreign currency a week to import the required raw materials that are not locally available. Most of its raw materials come from Asia, as that is the most competitive source of textile materials. As of now companies source what they can from the local textile industry and many companies rely on wholesalers who import fabrics for resale. The lead time when buying from Asia is long, and this needs financing, so many companies are struggling with this challenge and are unable to respond to the opportunities that exist in the market with the greater demand for locally made products.

Without fabrics, Zimbabwe can’t make garments, and since garments can’t be made, they are imported. So instead of importing only the raw materials and value adding them in Zimbabwe, the country ends up importing the finished product and paying another country for the value addition.