Along with fear, racism and misogyny, Donald Trump has based his campaign around the evils of globalization, as good manufacturing jobs leave the country due to comparatively lower wages elsewhere. That tragedy seems to also be unfolding in China where a shoe manufacturer supplying footwear for Ivanka Trump’s personal fashion collection is looking to pack up and move to Africa.
Earlier this week, Zhang Huarong, the head of the Huajian Group, a major Chinese shoe manufacturer, discussed his grand plans to build a small industrial city in the shape of a woman’s shoe in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Zhang told the AFP that he planned to have 30,000 workers living in the community by 2020 and $1 billion to $1.5 billion of merchandise being shipped out each year.
Currently, all of Huajian’s operations are based in China, where the company has manufactured 100,000 pairs of shoes for the Ivanka Trump collection.
In addition to shoes, many of the products available in Trump’s personal collection were made in China. In April, Ivanka Trump scarves were recalled because they “did not meet federal flammability standards for clothing textiles” (they were a fire hazard). Those scarves were manufactured in China.
China is just one of several low-wage countries that Ivanka’s dad, Donald Trump, says is stealing American jobs. It’s also one of several low-wages countries where he has had his own signature clothing line and many other products manufactured.
But perhaps Trump’s new favorite target for criticism and production will become Ethiopia. Just last week, a new Chinese-built electric railway to the sea opened in Addis Ababa. The “friendship express” is expected to accelerate Ethiopia’s transformation into the manufacturing powerhouse of Africa, and a popular destination for Chinese production outsourcing.