Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kenya: Textile exporters eye US market in recession

Kenyan textile exporters are preparing to take advantage of a crumbling US textile sector which has recorded closures of 13 firms and 10,000 job losses in the last six months alone.

Apparel producers in Kenya say the US economic slump has offered local garment manufacturers an opportunity to fill the gap left by the collapsed textile firms.

“The cut-down on production in the US is good for Kenyan apparel manufacturers, it will create several opportunities,” says Jonathan Chifalu, the public relations officer at the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), which promotes Industrial and Economic Development through investments in economic zones.

Most textile firms, which manufacture and export apparel duty-free are set up under the EPZ.

According to the EPZA, last year, 68 per cent of the apparel manufactured in the industrial parks were sold in the US markets. Kenya exports clothes to the US under the African Growth Opportunities Act (Agoa), which gives sub-Saharan African countries the right to export to the US market duty and quota-free.

“We are still processing last year’s orders. We believe the orders will increase due to the goings on in the US textile industry,” says Rudolf Isinga, the general manager of Protex Kenya EPZ, a local apparel manufacturer.