Syrian garment manufacturers, who showcased their products at the just-concluded three-day Syrian Fashion Fair in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut, are expecting to secure US$ 70 million worth of export deals, according to Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.
The Fashion Fair was an attempt by Syrian garment and textile manufacturers to revive their war-devastated industry. Clothing became a cornerstone in the Syrian export economy, as part of the country’s efforts to diversify the country’s economy and reduce dependence on oil. But, three years of conflict forced many manufacturing facilities to close.
Although accurate figures are not available, Firas Takialdine, vice president of the Syrian Garments and Textiles Exporters Association, estimates that around 70 percent of the country’s garment production facilities were either destroyed during the conflict years or have now become non-operational.
The war has also damaged agriculture, leading to a shortage of cotton. But, textile and apparel manufacturers are optimistic of rising again from the ashes, according to Mr. Takialdine.
Several Syrian clothing and textile manufacturers have relocated to Egypt and Turkey, while many others are opting to downsize and shift to safe areas in Damscus, the capital of Syria, as conditions are now favourable.
The Syrian Fashion Fair, held from February 1-3, 2014, was the second to be held in Beirut, following the success of the first fair in mid-September 2013, which resulted in trade deals worth $50 million, mainly from the Gulf and Libyan customers.
Syrian apparel, especially kidswear and lingerie, have become highly competitive due to the decrease in the value of the Syrian pound and the cost of labour, in the post-war period.
The Fair was sponsored by the Syrian Garments and Textiles Exporters Association, along with the Export Development and Promotion Agency, the Syrian Exporters Federation and the private Islamic Cham Bank.
About 95 Syrian companies from Damascus, Aleppo and Homs participated in the three-day fair, compared to participation of 62 firms in the first-edition of the fair last year.