Shares of the streaming box maker rose about 30 percent minutes after they debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Market Thursday. Fred Katayama reports. Continue reading
As Zimbabwe’s economy continues on a downward spiral, fashion designers and entrepreneurs are also feeling the pinch. Tungamira Mavi, who has clothed some of the country’s well known personalities, has had to shut down his shop in Harare to operate from home owing to low business, high rental costs and stiff competition from cheap second hand clothing.
HARARE, ZIMBABWE (RECENT) (REUTERS) – Tungamira Mavi is putting together an outfit at his home in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The 35-year-old fashion designer says he once dressed musicians and celebrities in the country but was recently forced to close his shop in town to keep the business running.
Tungamira’s Clothing label, Tumaz Designs has been in business for ten years now.
High rent, stiff competition from a secondhand clothes market and an economic crisis in the country has all made it difficult for him to thrive.
“In a good month I would make at least about 800 to 900 dollars but now given the challenges that we are facing in Zimbabwe it’s not a very viable economy right now because we have so many things that are sprouting up we have people who are now selling clothes in the streets which is posing a major challenge to our business as designers and tailors because most of the clients that we would get to design something for them are now going to the streets and getting something for a dollar,” said Tungamira.
With Zimbabwe’s economy struggling and a shortage of cash as people hoard U.S. dollars, the main currency, some 230 companies shut up shop in the first half of 2016, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, pushing more people into an already bulging informal economy.
The country has never fully recovered from a slump that began in 2000 with the violent seizure of thousands of white-owned farms.
In Harare’s flea markets, second-hand clothes donated by western charities sell at cheap prices, providing clothing to many.
Though industrialists say importing second-hand clothes undermines African economies, it’s a common scene across the continent.
Zimbabwe banned imports of used clothes in 2015 but they are still smuggled across the border with Mozambique and remain the preferred choice for many Zimbabweans.
“Those bales they have a lot of uniqueness about them. It’s highly unlikely for me to buy something from the bales today, and when I’m walking around town, tomorrow I will find some two or three other girls wearing them exact same dress that I’m wearing — which is so demeaning to us ladies, we really don’t like that. And another thing is that the pricing on the bales is very cheap you can find something of high quality for maybe about 2 dollars or so, and the same clothing if you are to look for it in other shops, these big shops you can get it for US$25 and maybe it will be of less quality,” said Anesu Moyo, a Harare resident.
“It’s wiser to buy second hand clothes because for only US$10 you get a lot compared to buying one outfit for the same price in the shops,” said Paida Dhaka, another Harare resident.
Though industry experts say Zimbabwe has a market for 80 million garments annually but only 20 million of those are locally manufactured.
The government says the local textile industry doesn’t have capacity to meet demand in the country.
Almost 90 percent of imported new clothes are exempt from duty because of regional trade agreements.
At Paramount garments, workers produce garments for corporate, industrial and casual wear sold in the country and abroad.
Jeremy Youmans, the company’s managing director says the second-hand clothes market has also seen many lose jobs in a country where the unemployment rate stands at 80 percent.
“As an industry we have gone down from a peak of 35,000 people to current levels of 5,500 so we have significantly declined but that’s not all because of second hand clothing but that is one the issues. COMMAS (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) did a study some years ago about four years ago now, where they estimated that job losses in COMESA, the whole region of COMESA was about 200,000 per year so the five years that is a million jobs lost in the COMESA region.”
In the meantime, shortages of basic goods and fuel have emerged, over the last few days in Zimbabwe resulting in panic buying by consumers. Shortages of cash, which started last year, have worsened, with some banks unable to provide money at all to customers.
South Africa’s tax agency on Monday accused KPMG of “unethical” and “unlawful” behaviour and said it plans to take legal action against the global auditor. It relates to a report carried out by the firm that suggested the former finance minister ran a rogue unit to spy on political leaders – as Kate King explains. Continue reading
WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 18, 2017) (IMF TV) – Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Monday (September 18) that Brexit is likely to hurt Britain’s growth prospects in the short term and push up inflation as the country adjusts to life outside the European Union. Continue reading
XIAMEN, FUJIAN PROVINCE, CHINA (SEPTEMBER 3, 2017) (REUTERS) – A meeting of the BRICS group of emerging economies is expected to rally against trade protectionism, China’s vice trade minister said on Sunday (September 3), the first day of the summit in southeastern China. Continue reading
Togo hosted an annual conference on the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) this week, bringing together various stakeholders from African nations and the United States. In 2015, the US Congress renewed the zero tariff deal for 10 years. Analysts have questioned how the programme will fare under U.S president Donald Trump’s presidency, given his “America First” campaign, that has seen him withdraw from various international trade deals.
SHOWS: LOME, TOGO (AUGUST 09, 2017) (REUTERS) – Talks between African and U.S. officials to review the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) free trade deal ended on Thursday (August 10) with no decision and a feeling of all sides that it had achieved little since it was set up.
President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator Robert E. Lighthizer and other U.S. officials have been in the tiny West African nation of Togo over the past two days to discuss the Clinton-era trade pact with sub-Saharan Africa.
Trump’s “America First” campaign has seen him withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, threated to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and seek to renegotiate the U.S.-South Korea free trade deal.
But his administration has said little about Africa, and had not previously mentioned the 2000 AGOA trade agreement. It is not clear whether the U.S. wants to change the deal before it expires in 2025 or extend it further – no decision was made on either count.
AGOA allows tariff-free access for thousands of goods from 38 African nations to U.S. markets.
But few African economies can take advantage of a U.S. trade initiative providing to the world’s largest market because they have little to export beyond commodities, an asset class where prices are in free fall.
Togo’s minister of commerce Bernadette Legzim-Balouki said that although not all the countries eligible have benefited from the law, the agreement allowed Africa to access the US market and that member countries will examine the constraints that prevent some African countries from profiting.
“2025 was the year that the AGOA agreement will officially came to an end. If the United States decides not to extend the agreement, does that mean that our trade relationship with the U.S must also come to an end? Not at all! African entrepreneurs and other stakeholders were able to have access to the US market. They have straightened their partnerships with economic partners in the U.S. A door has been opened, a relationship was established between the US and African countries,” she said.
Legzim-Balouki also said that the United States and the nations eligible for AGOA had agreed on some loose aims, including: to develop a better plan to take full advantage of the pact, for each eligible country to have bilateral talks with the United States, and the need for a mechanism to protect African producers from price volatility.
US officials at the forum said that the number of countries benefiting from AGOA was very limited, as is the number of sectors, adding that they will see if the situation improves in the coming years, but it is also up to the beneficiary countries to enhance their business climate.
“The AGOA programme was renewed for ten years by congress by a large margin. That means that we have 8 years of the law in place. It’s true that the environment has changed, and we are currently studying the best ways for African countries to benefit from AGOA,” said Peter Barlerin a representative of the US state department.
The U.S. trade deficit with the AGOA countries shrank to about $7.9 billion last year from a peak of $64 billion in 2008, as U.S. shale oil production increases have lessened the need for oil imports from major exporters Nigeria and Angola.
Nigerian engineer Oscar Ekponimo has created a web app that could help beat hunger. The app connects disadvantaged communities with stores and non-governmental organisations; giving them an opportunity to buy food approaching the end of its shelf life at a discount.
Private equity firm KKR has agreed to buy health information giant WebMD in a deal valued at about $2.8 billion. Fred Katayama reports. Continue reading
U.S. venture capital firms are lining up for a piece of the digital currency market but some of the hot tech startups don’t need their money. Chris Dignam reports. Continue reading
LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 6, 2017) (REUTERS) – Essence of Mildew? Eau de log flume? Or how about semen cologne? Perfume is getting quirkier – or so says exhibition ‘Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’, a new show at London’s Somerset House. Continue reading