The British and Tunisian Ambassadors endorse the Buy Tunisia Textiles project supported by PCIAW® and OCO Global

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The British and Tunisian Ambassadors endorse the Buy Tunisia Textiles project for a nearshore partnership with the UK, promoted by PCIAW® and OCO Global to support UK professional clothing manufacturing.

On Wednesday, 27th January 2021, the Ambassadors for Britain and Tunisia jointly endorsed the Buy Tunisia Textiles project on the opportune webinar by the PCIAW® and OCO Global, which was designed to empower the relationship between the UK and Tunisian professional clothing industries.

The Ambassadors of Britain and Tunisia endorse Buy Tunisia Textiles project for nearshore partnership with UK

Tunisian Ambassador to Great Britain, Nabil Ben Khedher thanked PCIAW® and OCO Global for the tremendous work they’ve been doing to promote and expand the trading relationship between Tunisia and the UK and thanked the impressive line-up of speakers and specialists from the respective governments and private sector. Mr Khedher said: “this is a timely event, since the new Continuity Trade Agreement between the UK and Tunisia comes into force after Brexit.”

The British Ambassador to Tunisia, Edward Oakden said, “We have an active team in Tunis and in the Department for International Trade is helping businesses in the UK to engage with Tunisian textile companies.” The British Ambassador, Mr Oakden referred to the two countries historic trade links dating back to the seventeenth century and said that the key instrument for taking forward the relations is the association agreement between UK and Tunisia.

OCO Global and PCIAW connects UK professional clothing with Tunisian textile investment

Colin McCullagh from OCO Global explained that they are the bridge between the Tunisian textile sector and international investors, working in combination with PCIAW®’s network of buyers and suppliers in the professional clothing industry. The project aims to forge dynamic, long term partnerships between Tunisian textile manufacturers and UK professional clothing suppliers.

New opportunities for UK and Tunisian professional clothing industry after Brexit

Simon Hunter Esq M.B.E, CEO of Hunter Apparel explained to the Tunisian audience that UK professional clothing businesses have an insatiable appetite to work with manufacturers who deliver on service with the agility and flexibility that their customers expect. Tunisia has a natural advantage on these considerations due its close proximity to the UK and the maturity of its textile industry.

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT explained the practical realities of trade between UK and Tunisia when considering the critical rules of origin, which many businesses are still getting to grips with. He briefed: “Brexit has made sourcing requirements harder, however it does present opportunities for UK manufacturing and nearshore manufacturing”.

Nafaa Ennaifer, Vice President of the Tunisian Textile Federation reported, “the workwear sector is one of the main sectors in our industry and we have not seen a recession. This sector has been consistent in performing well, there’s been a wave of re-localisation of our partners with EU companies for PPE throughout this pandemic.”

PCIAW® and OCO Global creates opportunities for Tunisian textile exports and UK investment

The PCIAW® and OCO Global hope to continue this project of collaboration, highlighting exciting opportunities for nearshore manufacturing which can offer stability and flexibility for UK workwear suppliers and businesses. As a member-oriented association, the PCIAW® is seeking to fulfill this surge in interest by dedicating its resources to supporting the diverse textile and manufacturing industry.

Tunisia’s textile industry is thriving and is ready for the professional clothing industry

Mehdi Miled, Board Member of the Tunisian Textile Federation outlined the country’s successful export market with over 5000 workers, 1650 textile businesses with 45% involving foreign participation with a predominantly European backing, with big fashion brands such as Ted Baker and Next. Mr Miled highlighted the Tunisian textile sector’s environmental ambitions as he spoke of the government’s investment in recycling and development of processes to reduce water consumption.

Chiheb Ben Ahmed, CEO, CEPEX (Tunisian Export Promotion Agency) explained that 90% of Tunisian textiles are exported to international markets at a value of 1.38 billion Euros, which in normal economic times would be even greater. Mr Ahmed went on to say that 45% of active companies are present with 100% foreign capital, partnered with French, Italian, German companies – the UK is currently Tunisia’s 10th biggest customer and he hopes this can grow with the Buy Tunisian Textiles project supported by PCIAW® and OCO Global. The workwear sector is worth 10% of Tunisia’s textile export, providing plenty of opportunity to UK professional clothing suppliers to invest for mutual benefit.

Tunisia is strategically located to be the UK’s nearshore partner

Abdelbasset Ghanmi, General Director of Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) laid out the strategic benefits of the Tunisian textiles sector, namely its proximity to the UK and open access to its major markets. Tunisia’s geo-strategic position in the Mediterranean means that it is just a one-hour flight away from major European cities. He further elaborated on the diverse pool of talent on offer in a skilled workforce, with 60,000 new Tunisian graduates filling an innovative and multilingual work pool.

Tarek Ben haj Ali, CEO of Workman and Maher El Kissi, Commercial Director of Workman, highlighted the cost-effectiveness of utilising Tunisia as a nearshore manufacturing base. Their experience overseeing a workwear company with 400 employees demonstrates the viability of a multilingual Tunisian workforce. Tunisia has significant international standing in terms of quality and certification, particularly the EN 20472 Certificate for Hi-Vis garments. The industry’s flexibility and ability to tailor quantity and size set is a further advantage and testament to the preparedness of its manufacturing capacity.

PCIAW® Trusted Members can help develop Tunisia’s manufacturing capabilities

Richard Jessup, Sales Director – Europe, Middle East & Africa, Direct Markets for Gerber Technology spoke on Gerber Technology’s ability to provide training, expertise and bespoke solutions to textile manufacturers and retailers in both the UK and Tunisia. Richard elaborated on Gerber’s innovative 3D visualisation technology which accelerates the process of sampling and thereby reduces time to market, helping companies to access the dynamic UK market by acting as a strategic advisor for unique manufacturing opportunities.

Yvette Ashby, founder and CEO of PCIAW®, commented: “this unique opportunity can significantly help our industry by inserting stability into the entire supply chain. The support of the British Ambassador to Tunisia and the Tunisian Ambassador to Britain, as well as the UK Department of International Trade, is incredibly meaningful and inspires confidence. This is a competitive investment opportunity for customers across the UK who may have lost out on manufacturing contracts due to the dislocation of COVID-19. The possibility of using Tunisia as a nearshore manufacturing base is invaluable and can revivify supply chains across the UK.”

PCIAW and OCO Global’s successful webinar brings the UK / Tunisian textile partnership one step closer

The webinar commenced with resounding success, coming one step closer to uniting UK and Tunisian textile companies in mutually beneficial opportunities in the thriving workwear sector. The PCIAW® extends its gratitude to its honoured guests, including Simon Hunter Esq M.B.E, Adam Mansell, Nabil Ben Khedher, Edward Oakden, Hosni Boufaden, Nafaa Ennaifer, Mehdi Miled, Abdelbasset Ghanmi, Chiheb Ben Ahmed, Tarek Ben haj Ali, Maher El Kissi, Richard Jessup and Francisco Aguiar.

The PCIAW® is honoured to have Ambassadors Nabil Ben Khedher and Edward Oakden join the PCIAW® Summit and Awards on 2nd-3rd November 2021 alongside OCO Global and Cepex Tunisia to promote the Buy Tunisia Textiles project. The PCIAW® Summit and Awards 2021 will bring together the industry’s leading suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors in a fruitful dialogue promoting unique business opportunities across the spectrum. We look forward to seeing you all there.

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