Kyrgyz textile makers “in crisis” as firms lose out to Uzbek, Bangladeshi and other rivals

By bne IntelliNews May 7, 2024

A severe crisis has beset Kyrgyzstan’s textile industry, the president of the country’s Fashion and Textile Association, Zafarbek Sulaymanov, reportedly informed press.

The industry, with 200,000 workers, is finding itself unable to compete on international markets, with much market share taken by rivals in neighbouring Uzbekistan, where there is ample access to domestically-grown cotton, and other competitors such as Bangladesh, where labour is cheaper, Asia News on May 7 reported Sulaymanov as saying.

One difficulty indicated by Sulaymanov is the depreciation of the ruble, which until two years ago made trade very profitable. Many required input materials are purchased by Kyrgyz textile makers in dollars, while salaries are paid in Kyrgyz som and sales are made in rubles.

Last year, the Kyrgyz government proposed entrepreneurs in the country’s textile industry unite in major groups in clusters to attract best-known global brands. Even some joint Kyrgyz-Uzbek activities commenced.

Sulaymanov, however, was quoted as saying that the idea of attracting big international brands such as Zara or H&M to Kyrgyzstan are no more than "imaginative thoughts".

"I myself invited a large company to work for us: they commissioned me for a million sports T-shirts at one dollar each, but under these conditions it is impossible for us to work, and they went to Bangladesh," he was reported as saying.

He added: “Our English and Italian colleagues were surprised by the fact that we work with the same techniques and the same machinery [as they do in other countries], but we don't have our own international brand [as a textile nation]”.

A complete redevelopment of Kyrgyz textiles is needed to gain brand authority on the markets, he concluded.

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