LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

Morocco 2020/21 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

Though Morocco is well recognized as a key player in the fast fashion supply chain, AMITH is advocating to further improve market access conditions for local exports.

Fatima-Zohra Alaoui
BIOGRAPHY

Fatima-Zohra Alaoui is the General manager of AMITH. Prior to that, she worked in the field of strategic consultancy, in banking and in business intelligence. She holds a PhD in economics from Lancaster University in the UK.

Can you tell us about Morocco's textile industry?
The textile and apparel (T&A) industry plays a key role in Morocco's economy. Aside from being the top industrial
employer in the country accounting for around 180,000 jobs, it is one of the few sectors that employs a large number of
women and young people. Contributing to 15% of Morocco's industrial GDP, it also plays a leading role in the trade balance, representing 25% of the country's exports. One of its major competitive advantages lies in its proximity to Europe and therefore its ability to react immediately to new trends to be delivered in short lead times and in flexible quantities. Inditex is one of the biggest clients of the Moroccan T&A industry, accounting for a significant part of the sector's employment and exports.

How has the competitiveness of the sector evolved since 2014?
In 2015, the T&A sector adopted an innovative and ambitious strategy, resulting from a strong, effective and unprecedented public-private partnership. This strategy is part of the 2015-2020 Industrial Acceleration Plan and was built around targeted, clear, conscious, and aligned choices between the state and the profession. It aims to make the Moroccan textile sector a leading player on the continental scale and around the Mediterranean. The combination of a conducive international environment and the ambitious national strategy has given the sector a new impulse that is not limited to exports, but also to investment and employment. Four years after the implementation of the national T&A strategy, the sector has created 70,000 jobs and generated more than EUR800 million in additional exports.

How was 2019 for the textile sector?
After recording an average annual growth rate of 5% since 2012, exports of Moroccan textile and garments to Europe stagnated in 2019, which can be explained by the less preferable market access conditions granted by the EU to Moroccan exports in comparison with countries such as Turkey and some Asian and African nations, which enjoy duty-free access to
European markets.

What can the government do to improve relations with the EU?
We have been trying, for almost a decade now, to get more favorable access conditions to EU markets. Indeed, countries from Asia or Turkey can export garments to the EU without paying duties regardless of the origin of the fabric used to manufacture them, while Moroccan garments pay duties on their FOB prices if the fabrics used originate from outside the Pan Euromed region. This means that duty is paid not only on the imported fabric, but also on the added value generated locally in Morocco, which is unfair. Fully aware that any change in the rules of origins with the EU has to be decided at the political level, members of the Moroccan government have showed their support for our position and have started talks with European officials to help turn the tide in our favor and level the competitive playing field.

What sustainability initiatives are you implementing?
Morocco embarked on a sustainability path several years ago when we made our first 100% Made in Morocco 100% sustainable denim collection. The industry made several investments in equipment allowing for a more sustainable way of production, and factories are increasingly considering renewable energy alternatives to reduce their energy bills. In addition, projects are being launched to establish a recycling ecosystem in the T&A industry to close the loop, reduce the impact of our production on the environment, and offer brands and retailers sustainable production alternatives.

What are your goals for 2020?
Earlier this year, I could have responded with all confidence. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic inflicting on
our industry worldwide what could be qualified as the worst blow in its history, our goal today for the remainder of 2020
is first damage control. Then, depending on how things evolve with the pandemic in Morocco and the rest of the world,
we'll adjust. The Moroccan T&A will be there when COVID-19 is defeated to stand by its international partners and
relaunch our industry together.