Is it a promised land? Will it promote the development of the country? Or will it enrich the fashion greats and leave the people of the country the same?
After having squeezed the possibilities of countries like India, China, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, the fashion business surprises with one more link in the chain. Ethiopia has appeared on the map as a manufacturing focus.
This new geographical point is due to an investment process of 250 million dollars from Chinese capital, with which Hawassa Industrial Park has been created.
According to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, who has propitiated this investment, it is an eco-sustainable area, where 90 percent of the water used in industrial processes will be recycled (a surprising fact considering that textiles are one of the sectors most polluters in the world today).
Measures that attract investors
The State wants that in 2025 Ethiopia has become the largest hub in Africa. To do this, it has launched measures that facilitate foreign investment. The most important is that during the first 5 years the company will not have to pay taxes.
For fast fashion and fashion chains in general, even for mother of the bride dresses in San Antonio, Hawassa Industrial Park is a way to generate more benefits for brands. In addition to this exempt period, the salary of an Ethiopian worker in the textile sector is $ 25 per month. Consider that -according to data from Fatex, the most important fast fashion fair held annually in Paris- in 2013 the country with the lowest salary in the world was Bangladesh and there they paid 50 dollars a month.
Five years later, the textile industry has generated a way to pay even lower wages to workers (100,000 are expected to come). It is worth wondering if this is fair or if it contributes to deepening the social gap between rich and poor in the world.
From the purely economic point of view, this substantially reduces the costs with respect to manufacturing in China, because the average salary of a worker in the textile sector is there of 582 dollars, according to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO).
According to the same official source, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia place salaries around 100 dollars, which places them at the tail of the world, in the group of countries that are below 200 dollars per month. Ethiopia, then, breaks the record unfortunately now that it has entered the lists of manufacturing countries.
Same prices in the West, more benefits
However, this new industrial park raises several questions. The first, will their prices lower the brands they make there? Companies like they have part of their production since it was launched in July 2017, but has not released a significant discount on the labels of their garments when they appear in the West.
The second question, and more important, is to know what treatment (and what salary) workers will receive that is fair and in accordance with the work they do and for whom they do it.
In this sense, some of the 18 companies that have settled in the new complex have been quick to launch positive messages and ensure that Corporate Social Responsibility is lived.