While China is investing in oil pipelines in Sudan, Taiwan is investing in garment factories in Lesotho. Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia reports on a global shift from Asia to Africa.
Most of the discussion about “global shift” over the last two decades has been about manufacturing moving to Asia. Many of my students have asked me when we might see a shift to Africa. Well, I can tell them now. The congested industrial zone in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, houses one of Africa’s biggest clusters of textile and garment factories. Nearly all are Taiwanese owned and export their wares to the US. Some labour and environmental activists have complained about the plants’ pollution levels and labour practices.
But for most people in the landlocked kingdom, a job cutting or sewing denim destined for US stores is a prized position with a common salary of more than $100 a month (higher than in some parts of Asia). Lesotho benefits from the US’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), that exempts some clothing made in the continent’s poorest countries from strict duties and quotas….
CGM, a Taiwanese-owned factory, offers a striking tableau of globalisation. The Chief Executive is Indian and the factory employs 8000 people in Lesotho. It uses cheap fabric from China, India and Pakistan to produce jeans and trousers destined for Levi Strauss, Gap, WalMart and other American chains.