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New South African Textile Projects benefiting from AGOA

Published date:
Friday, 07 February 2003

The Free State Development Corporation (FDC) is constructing a new R18-million factory building to accommodate a R213-million textile mill in Industriqwa, the industrial hub of Harrismith, in the eastern Free State.

The investors in the venture are Lifing Textiles, a 50% partnership between a Taiwanese businessman and South African company Sun Home Import and Export.

“The 10 000 m2 mill, believed to be the largest in South Africa, will produce 12 000 000 m of denim cloth, using yarn sourced from Taiwan.

“A portion of the manufactured material and completed denim garments will be exported to Taiwan, while the factory is also set to gain from the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), as it has secured a contract with American retailers,” says FDC properties manager Wally Smit.

“The denim cloth will be available for downstreaming, and three local spin-offs are expected from the multimillion-rand investment,” he says.

John Mofokeng Construction started the groundwork for the mill in late December, and completion is expected at the end of May. Initially the factory will employ 400 people, but this number will hopefully increase over the next three years to 2 200 employees. In its drive to gear up the Free State economy towards sustainable growth, the FDC is focusing on four pillars in the manufacturing sector: textile manufacturing; gold-jewellery manufacturing; petrochemical downstreaming and pharmaceuticals and agro-industrial beneficiation and tourism development.

Clothing and textile plants are situated in Industriqwa and Phuthaditjhaba in the Eastern Free State and Botshabelo, a modern and massive industrial complex near Bloemfontein. The Botshabelo complex in the central Free State comprises 240 000 m2 of floor space and is occupied by about 154 factories.

Most of these factories are in the clothing and textile industry, including denim, and the latter have benefited tremendously from AGOA; Amica Fashions, for example, exported big orders to the US in the past year. “The Free State produces the majority of the pairs of jeans that are made in South Africa each day,” says Smit. It is the intention of the FDC to develop the Bloemfontein–Botshabelo–Thaba ’Nchu axis into an even bigger textile hub.

Long-term plans for the Thaba ’Nchu area include the development of a leather tannery, which is in line with the aims of furthering the textile hub.

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