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Moroccan Textile Sector Cuts 32,000 Jobs Despite Rising Exports

The textile and leather industry in Morocco has seen a recent uptick in terms of exports, but the increase may have been too nominal to matter as the sector lost 32,000 jobs between 2013 and 2014.

In a recent report by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP), findings revealed that last year, the added value of textile and leather industries improved by 1.2% year-on-year after dipping 2.7% in 2013. HCP noted the recovery was driven mainly by a recovery in production units of clothing, textiles, carpets, knits and travel goods.

“The revival of the textile and leather activities was primarily due to improved foreign demand for products in the industry,” HCP noted in a statement. “Thus, exports of ready-made clothing and footwear increased by 5.3% and 3 percent in 2014, taking advantage of stronger imports from Spain and the United States. These performances had brought the contribution of external sales of the branch of fabric and leather to 16.7% of total exports in 2014, against an average share of 17.6% over the past four years and 23.4% between 2007 and 2010.”

But the recovery may do little still to reboot the slumping sector. According to HCP, the job losses were mainly the result of a roughly 14 percent reduction of the textiles workforce (4.6% in clothing and 8.6% in shoe manufacturing).

And Morocco’s recent textile sector job losses come after the country lost 119,000 jobs between 2008 and 2014, according to Morocco World News.

HCP noted that 70 percent of employees are mainly seasonal and have no medical coverage, and as many as three out of five are working without an employment contract.

The textile and leather sectors employ roughly 42 percent of the industrial workforce, and focuses namely on textile, apparel and fur production as well as leather products and travel goods. Articles of apparel and fur make up 78 percent of total production, textile production (including spinning, weaving and finishing for textiles, carpets and knit fabrics) accounts for 19 percent of production, and products of leather and travel goods make up the remaining 3 percent.

For the year ended December 2014, Morocco exported $138.2 million worth of textiles and apparel to the United States, up 17.51% over the previous year period, according to data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). However, the recent recovery has yet to create new jobs, nor has it quelled concerns of textile and leather companies that were cautious with their staff numbers in the face of the international economic crisis.