The value of Zimbabwe’s clothing and textile exports has grown 165 per cent from 2012 to 2016. Nearly 80 per cent of the country’s clothing and textile exports goes to South Africa. However, the apparel sector currently operates at less than 30 per cent of its capacity. The industry that once used to employ over 40,000 people now employs only 8,000 workers.
Zimbabwe is flooded with cheap textile and apparel imports from Asian countries, especially from China. These low-priced textile and apparel imports have had a negative impact on the manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe. Textile and apparel manufacturers want a ban on imports of cheap polyester knitted fabric and finished blankets.
Other problems plaguing the industry are: poor performance, low productivity, out of date technology, and lack of investment and government support. An increasing number of textile mills in the country is closing down. Zimbabwe’s textile and clothing sub-sector consists of three components: production and ginning of cotton, transformation of lint into yarn and fabric, and the conversion of fabric and yarn into garments. There are also companies that are in protective clothing have been doing well because of the mines that are opening up.