Ethiopia textile exports fall well short of targets

brett mathews | 5th February 2019

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia continues to miss export targets for textiles according to new figures presented by the government, with a shortage of raw materials – including cotton – hampering output. A report presented to the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives by the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) and the Industrial Parks Corporation (IPC) with major performance downturns over the past six months in various export sectors, including apparel. The MTI said Ethiopia’s export performance was US$135m less than the previous year for the same period. The export target for the past six months was U$1.21bn – well below the US$1.96bn target set.

The IPC presented a performance audit report for the period 2015–2018. According to the evaluation in 2015/16, exports of products originating at the Bole Lemi industrial park – a significant garment hub on which the government had pinned high hopes – was about US$16.9m. The original plan was to export products worth US$130m from the park, which offers an indication of the extent to which targets are being missed.

Similarly, for the fiscal year of 2016/17 exports from the Bole Lemi park were expected to earn US$40m while actual exports were US$23.8m. For 2016/17 it was planned that exports from the Hawassa Industrial Park – another major textile hub – were US$1.4m against a planned export performance of US$50m.

Ethiopia has pinned huge hopes on its textile and apparel export sectors and created a number of major industrial parks to attract inward investors. While many from the likes of India, China and Bangladesh are tipping their toes in the water in the country, the rate of progress so far is far slower than had been anticipated. Moreover, there are suggestions in some quarters that the government and inward investment agencies may have oversold the Ethiopian proposition while underplaying the extent of the logistical challenges in the country for freight forwarders.