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Belgian company, Celio International, is looking into opening a textile and garment factory in Ethiopia. Celio, which specializes in men’s clothing, came to Ethiopia on January 12, 2014 as part of a trade mission.
The Wallonia Agency for Trade and Investment, a Belgian governmental agency in charge of foreign trade promotion and Investment in Wallonia, which is one of the three Belgian regions, sponsored the event.
The Delegation of 12 companies represented by 16 people stayed for a whole week, meeting 50 Ethiopian entrepreneurs. They were interested in trading opportunities in textiles, manufacturing, sugar, and agribusiness, according to Tom Neijens, First Secretary/ Deputy Head of Mission at the Belgian embassy.
“Some companies will come back to further explore, others already concluded some trade deals,” said Neijens in an online interview. “We are hoping to receive the announcement of a Belgian investment in an important sector soon.”
Neijens added that there are around 10 Belgian companies with investments in Ethiopia. There are many more investors active as traders, coffee bean buyers and involved in agricultural commodities. Most are active in the horticulture and flower business.
In the 2012/13 fiscal year, Ethiopia exported nearly 10,000tns of textiles and garments. In the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP) textiles and garments are one of the major focal points of the manufacturing sector.
The GTP plans to increase export earnings from the textile sector from the 21.8 million birr garnered in the previous five year; Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) to one billion birr. But the sector brought in only 244.6 million birr in the previous years of the GTP which is much smaller than the 600 million birr targeted.
There has been a lot of interest in the Ethiopian textile industry from foreign companies. One of the companies that opened a factory is Ayka Addis. Ayka is based in Turkey and came to Ethiopia with the express invitation of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and that in turn awakened the interest of 50 Turkish textile companies.
Cheap labor attracts many investors to Ethiopia and it is one of the countries that benefits from Barak Obama’s African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) which allows specific countries to export their goods to America without tariffs or quotas.
Textile producers are challenged by lack of electricity, water and other amenities. They also are concerned by slowdowns from bureaucracy as they attempt to obtain credit and business licenses.
The first Ethiopian textile company was created in 1939. Bahir Dar University is the only university with a Textile Engineering department.
This is the second trade mission from Belgium. In the next few months more than ten Belgian Companies will come for the trade mission. Celio was founded in 1985 by Marc and Laurent Grosman. The company has more than 1,000 stores in 70 countries and sells 35 million items annually