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A master plan submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) aims to improve the country's ailing clothing and textile industry.
A master plan submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) aims to improve the country's ailing clothing and textile industry.

Plans to reshape the clothing industry


By Karen Pretorius - Jun 18th, 10:19

A master plan submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) aims to improve the country's ailing clothing and textile industry.

A panel discussion at the 5th Source Africa and Apparel Textile and Footwear expo at the Cape Town International Convention Centre heard how the plan aims to reshape the industry which had shed between 140000 to 160000 jobs in recent years - although job losses had stabilized over the last decade.

The exhibition attracted 130 companies from across Africa, from manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and buyers.

Simon Eppel, a researcher at the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union, said the “master plan” had been drafted to reshape the clothing and textile industry.

Among other issues, it aims to stop the influx of illegal imports. One of the ways this could be done is to limit the ports of entry through which these goods are allowed into the country.

Eppel said the intention is to finalize the plan this year.

He said clothing sector wages in South Africa are lower than countries such as Brazil and Turkey.

Michael Lawrence, executive director of the National Clothing Retail Federation (NCRF), said they have “huge support for local”.

He said the 10/11 year target through the master plan is to create 60000 new jobs by 2030.

Lawrence said reviving the clothing and textile industry “is not meant to be a race to the bottom, to find the cheapest labour”, but instead, they want to drive an intelligent agenda to consumers, who are increasingly aware of sustainability such as the case regarding single-use plastics.

“Consumers use their existing realities to make buying decisions. So sometimes it’s just about price. But consumers can increasingly be allowed to make smart decisions,” said Lawrence.

Deputy Minister of dti, Noma- lungelo Gina, said Source Africa aims to boost regional investment to ensure sustainable job creation in the sector.

“The South African textiles and clothing sectors constitute an important sector of our economy,” she said.

In mid-March, executives at Brimstone, owners of clothing manufacturer House of Monatic, said it could face closure if a “right-sizing” process does not improve operations. The factory, based in Salt River, is 100-years-old.

Chief operating officer Iqbal Khan said part of the restructuring at House of Monatic involved operating at a lower capacity. Some 140 staff would be impacted by the “right-sizing” as the group was over-staffed, demand for locally produced clothing was slack and production inputs were too high.

In April, the provincial government allocated R132million in stimulus funding over the next three years to support manufacturing, including the clothing sector. But it would also support operations outside of the cities across the province.

The former MEC for Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer, said: “We import too much and we produce too little”.

“As a country, our imports of clothing, textiles, and leather goods have sky-rocketed from just over R5billion in 2000 to almost R60bn now,” she said.

Schäfer said there is a plant to rebuild the industry in the province.


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