SA’s clothing master plan has created 20,000 jobs and boosted local suppliers, says Patel

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) Minister Ebrahim Patel at TFG's Prestige Clothing factory.  (Supplied/dtic)

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) Minister Ebrahim Patel at TFG’s Prestige Clothing factory. (Supplied/dtic)

SA retailers have confirmed that more than 20 000 jobs were created in the five years since the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industry’s Master Plan was launched in 2019, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) says.

The retailers shared the statistics with dtic Minister Ebrahim Patel at a meeting in Cape Town on Thursday, adding they also told him they had sourced 371 million more units of clothing items from local manufacturers over the same period. This means the baseline of units purchased locally effectively increased by more than half.

At the same time, the volume of clothing imported from China has dropped in major clothing categories, while the value of the clothing imported rose. The dtic says these points to success in the fight against under-invoicing.

The department said these figures were part of a report-back to CEOs of large retailers and manufacturers, as well as leaders from labor and the government, who met at Foschini owner TFG’s Prestige Clothing factory.

Patel told a media briefing after the meeting that, over the past five years, stakeholders had been able to “take an industry which had been decimated by imports and low investment and stabilize it through collaboration and partnership,” the statement read.

The Master Plan was an agreement between the government and the local clothing sector aimed at encouraging more local content and jobs, for example, through more opportunities for farmers, boosting tariffs, and clamping down on illicit activity.

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“These efforts have built a platform which has led, in just a short time, to increased local procurement; increased manufacturing employment; and better administration of imports at the country’s ports of entry,” said Patel.

In terms of the plan, the dtic said retailers undertook to increase their procurement of locally manufactured products, while manufacturers committed to increasing investment in productive capacity and technology.

Workers, it noted, committed themselves to strengthening the industry and the Buy South African campaign in communities, while the government committed itself to upgrading customs enforcement to stem illegal imports, introducing incentive programs and tariffs and rebates.

“The decrease in imported volumes, accompanied by increasing declared values, is great news for the industry and jobs. It means that we are making progress to levels where imported clothing and footwear are being declared at their fair prices,” said Patel.