Source Africa to launch in April 2013
US government, trade associations back initiative
Cape Town (SA) – Source Africa, the new trade fair for African textile, apparel and footwear manufacturers to premier from April 9-12 next year, so far has around 10 footwear manufacturers either confirmed or expressing strong interest, organiser Deidré Harte of LTE said after the launch on July 17.
Source Africa was conceived as a separate fair to achieve several objectives – create a fair restricted to African-based manufacturers; encourage business between African companies and countries; expose the exhibitors to South Africa’s chains and mini-chains; and try to make use of AGOA to export African goods to the US.
Up to now, it has been a part of LTE’s Apparel, Textile & Footwear Fair (ATF), which is dominated by foreign companies.
Sanjay Pattundeen, chairman of the SA Footwear & Leather Export Council (SAFLEC), said he found the launch positive. “SAFLEC had already decided that Africa would be the focus of our efforts,” he said, “so Source Africa fits well into that. The opportunities are there, and the networking part is very encouraging. We’ve met some helpful people who can provide useful information, especially about Africa.
“We have an industry which is working, and the market in other parts of Africa can’t be that different from the one we serve here.
“As far as AGOA is concerned – that would be a cherry on top, and if the organisers and their sponsors are able to put us in touch with a major US customer, we would probably have to look at it as a cluster project, because none of us would be big enough to handle it on our own.”
“It’s clear that Africa’s time has arrived,” said speaker Johann Baard, executive director of Apparel Manufacturers South Africa (AMSA). “For South Africa’s clothing industry, after nearly 20 years of decline, there have been encouraging signs of stabilisation following policy interventions by the DTI. The declines haven’t yet been reversed, but there is a lot of potential to create jobs and grow again.”
For Rajeev Arora, CEO of the African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), which represents 18 countries in West and East Africa, the fair will be useful to showcase “an integrated cotton, textile and apparel industry to compete in the world market”.
He said the African industry still faced “a huge gap in the intermediate sectors of the cotton value chain” exacerbated by “obsolete equipment, dumping from the East, political instability, poor infrastructure, lack of harmonized policies, smuggling, and second hand clothing”.
The most anticipated speaker at the launch was probably Cynthia Brown, public diplomacy officer at the US Consulate General, Cape Town, speaking on possible American interest in sourcing apparel from Africa via the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), which promotes duty-free trade of a range of products between most African countries and the US.
A key provision of AGOA, which allows African manufacturers from some countries – excluding South Africa, which is classed as ‘developed’ – to use imported fabrics for goods destined for the US, is up for renewal on September 30.
“We’re aware of the importance of the third-country fabric provision under AGOA,” she said. “We assure you the extension of the third country waiver is high priority for the US government. At last month’s AGOA Forum in Washington, DC, Secretary of State Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk expressed their clear support for AGOA and for the extension of the third country waiver. They both pledged to continue working with Congress to get this important legislation passed.
“This is the perfect time to inaugurate Source Africa,” she said. “Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. It is home to a majority of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. In the past decade, trade between Africa and the rest of the world has tripled, private foreign investment has surpassed official aid, and it will surely keep rising. Africa – as our business community is learning – now offers the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment of any developing region in the world. In fact, it is the only developing region where the growth rate is expected to rise this year. The middle class is expanding. Consumer spending is increasing. Urban centres are becoming vital economic hubs.
“More than a decade after the launch of AGOA, the Act continues to be the centrepiece of the US-Africa commercial relationship. Since its inception, exports from Africa to the US under AGOA have grown 500%, from $8.15bn in 2001 to $53.8bn in 2011. Of that amount, textiles and apparel totaled just under $1 billion, more than doubling in the last 10 years.
“Under AGOA, Africa’s textile and apparel sector has attracted some of the largest and best known brands in the US, such as Levi’s, Wal-Mart, Gap, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, Target, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Vanity Fair and Land’s End.
“AGOA has contributed to creating over 300 000 jobs in Africa, with the textile and apparel sector being one of the largest employers. Further, textile and apparel plays a key role in employing women, who comprise 80% of garment industry employment.
“In spite of this significant success, sub-Saharan Africa represents only 1% of the US apparel market. We believe there is significant opportunity for Africa to increase its market share under AGOA. Toward that end, the US government is pleased to support the upcoming Source Africa trade show. “The US government, through USAID and its Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH), is proud to support the Source Africa event with their business matchmaking programme, the seminar series, the opening reception, and the manufacturing site tours.
“SATH will be working closely with the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) to promote the event to key buyers in the US.” – [Tel: +27 (0)21 790 5849, email: email@example.com]
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