AMITH contributed to the fight against COVID-19 in Morocco by creating fabric masks. What were the results in terms of production after a year?
We managed to achieve full capacity in Morocco in just a few weeks; we supplied enough masks to respond to the domestic demand, and by mid-May 2020, we were also able to start exporting masks to 11 countries, mostly in Europe. It was certainly a challenge to set up the production facility in such a short time because Morocco decided to make masks mandatory quickly, and we had to adjust swiftly in order to respond to the local demand.
What is your assessment of the textile industry’s ability to bounce back after the pandemic and how it will contribute to Morocco’s overall economic recovery?
The sector has done well in the sense that in the context of a global crisis and pandemic, we still managed to achieve a successful performance. Production picked up again in July 2020, after stopping for a few months in terms of exports. After July, we managed to achieve better performance than the previous year, and that trend continued until October. Since Europe is our main market, we are obviously affected by developments there. When restrictions were put in place in various European countries starting from November, and non-essential shops including clothing stores, were closed, January and February were difficult months for our industry.
How have your plans to diversify your markets progressed?
We have been working on it for some time now, but we have since intensified our efforts since the start of the crisis. However, it takes time to acquire clients and enter new markets; one cannot do that overnight. Our initial target were countries where Moroccan garments did not have a large presence, such as the UK, Germany, Scandinavian countries, and the US. We did make some progress, though unfortunately, things are not moving as quickly as we would like them to because of the pandemic.
How is AMITH working toward promoting sustainability as part of your operations?
Sustainability is no longer a fashion trend; it is a reality for the industry. Future demand will be about sustainable garments. We have been working on this for some time now and are working with our members companies on getting a certification process to assure our buyers that our suppliers are sustainable. We are also working on industrial zones that will be sustainable, equipped with water treatment plants, recycling facilities, using building materials that allow for energy efficiency. Morocco is already extremely advanced in solar energy.
What are some of your initiatives in terms of gender equality and promoting women in business?
We have been working on the new strategy for AMITH as an association in the last few months. One of the pillars for the new strategy is how can we contribute as an industry to the UN’s SDGs, one of which is gender equality. Today, about 60% of our labor force in Morocco is women, yet we have few women in top management positions. We are still looking into the best way to ensure women are in management positions in our industry and receive decent conditions in their careers and want to create an action plan. This is one of our priorities.
What are AMITH’s goals and expectations for 2021?
In 2020, we took the opportunity to review all the efforts made in the last decades and see how we can improve. COVID-19 was an opportunity for us, because today we see a willingness to move part of production away from Asia and closer to home. There is definitely an opportunity for Morocco to expand. Our goals are to reinforce our presence in various markets and give our members and our industry the tools they need to be more sustainable, because that is what buyers are looking for. We are also working on a new brand identity for the Moroccan T&A industry.