Today's Labour News

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newsNellie Brand-Jonker reports that, after years of sweating blood, the local clothing industry is seeing an upswing for the first time in a long while.  

With the problems of the industry having long been ascribed to cheap imports, figures from the Apparel Manufacturers of SA (Amsa) for 2014 show that imported clothing fell by 11%.  Amsa’s Johann Baard indicated that 2014 was the first year in more than a decade to see a drop in imports over the previous year.  As elsewhere in the world, SA’s clothing industry has suffered over the past 12 years due to the relaxation of international trade restrictions on China.  Thousands of work opportunities were lost and many factories closed.  But over the last year, 22 factories opened their doors in the Western Cape and about 700 new jobs have been created.  Some 70% of the total clothing imports come from China, followed by Swaziland, India, Madagascar and Lesotho.  In the past year, the volumes from China, Lesotho en Mauritius dropped.  

Baard acknowledges that the drop in imports could be as a result of the weakening of the rand, but says it is a double-edged sword because most of the fabric and materials are imported.  Baard believes that the biggest reason for the turnaround is the new business model of small retailers which makes a local supply chain a necessity.  He explained that the chief reason behind the model is so that they can react quickly to fashion changes and change stock speedily.  Baard believes that the period of stabilisation over the past 18 months has laid the foundation for an upward growth phase for local clothing manufacturers.

  • Read this report in full in Afrikaans at Netwerk24

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