TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

SA Textile Industry 'In Need of Rescue'

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

Source: Business Day (Johannesburg)

Government should urgently devise a rescue package to pull the textile industry out of its job-shedding crisis, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said yesterday.

DA spokesmen Mark Lowe and Enyinna Nkem-Abonta said such a package should include assistance for enterprises compelled to move into more competitive niche markets as well as reskilling programmes for employees affected.

The crisis has been caused by the influx of cheap Chinese imports and the strong rand, which undermine the local industry's ability to compete in domestic and international markets.

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union estimates that about 16 000 jobs were lost in the past year alone in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industries.

Lowe and Nkem-Abonta also said over-regulation of the labour market was also to blame. The market should be deregulated, so that minimum wage and other regulations were relaxed to lower production costs .

The trade and industry department should investigate whether China still subsidised its textile industry, and whether it was applying unethical employment practices. If it was engaging in unfair trade practices, the department should act, the DA said.

The department should also negotiate with China to explore the possibility of phasing in the liberalisation of textile imports more slowly, "to reduce the impact on the local textile industry and allow it time to adapt".

Ways should also be sought to reduce the cost of imported raw materials , and reduce or remove import duties on these materials, the two said.

They said the department's task team on the crisis had not produced any results, having met only twice last year.

“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of South Africa’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.