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SGS Invests in Ethiopia With New Apparel and Textile Testing Lab

A state-of-the-art SGS apparel and textile testing facility is set to be the newest addition to a growing East African garment manufacturing industry.

On Friday, Swiss inspection, verification and testing firm, SGS (formerly the Société Générale de Surveillance) officially opened a new laboratory in Hawassa, Ethiopia—part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPRS).

The facility will be “tailor-made” to local businesses in order to provide a quick, efficient pathway for manufacturers to comply with applicable regulations and standards for the global market. Calling the area “one of the most important textile and garment manufacturing sites in East Africa,” SGS said that the facility should help the local industry better comply with vital international requirements.

“Ethiopia is becoming a hub for ready-made garment exports to Europe and the USA, clearly demonstrating an increase in demand for consumer product testing services in this region,” vice president of SGS Global Softlines, Spencer Yeung, said. “Our new state-of-the-art facility can test against an array of international safety, quality and compliance requirements. In addition, our program of future development and investment ensures that this lab will be the only fully-fledged textile testing laboratory in the region.”

SGS will also be able to begin providing inspection, compliance audit and factory assessment services to the region, with the goal of making the new facility a “one-stop” shop for local businesses. The firm currently manages a global network of 94,000 employees and 2,600 offices and laboratories.

SGS pointed to an Ethiopian textile industry that has more than 80 years of experience and a growth rate of “over 50 percent” in recent years as brands diversify their sourcing. According to SGS, more than 65 foreign textile investment projects have been approved in the region over the same time period, indicating international support for the growing textile manufacturing industry in East Africa.

Ethiopia is a beneficiary of the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act in the United States, a deal that offers preferential duties to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. So far, Ethiopia has seen the fastest rate of growth in apparel imports among countries named in the bill. In May, Ethiopia recorded a 119 percent increase in apparel shipments, year-over-year, totaling $120.86 million.

SGS opened a similar facility in Cambodia in 2014.