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Johannesburg - South Africa’s Clothing, Textiles, Leather and Footwear sectors have potential to create much needed employment and boost competitiveness, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said recently.

DTI Director-General Lionel October said the Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) introduced by Pretoria last year has breathed a new life into the sectors where new decent jobs are being created.

“Local retailers are increasing procurement from local manufacturers and there is confidence starting to be shown by the new investment in the sectors. CTCP stopped the employment decline in these sectors and more than 12 000 new permanent jobs have been created,” October said in a statement.

The official said South Africa retailers have committed to local procurement in support of manufacturing companies. Over 400 companies were assisted under the CTCP with US$665 million worth of applications approved, he added.

October stated that other Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries have embraced the CTCP, concept and that Swaziland is the process of implementing the program.

He added that different African countries have experienced success in these sectors as they have used diverse strategies in developing their manufacturing bases.

SACU members include Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland- the five member states maintain a common external tariff, share customs revenues, and coordinate policies and decision-making on a wide range of trade issues.

October said some less developed countries have taken full advantage of International Trade Agreements like African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to build on their industries.

“Through these interventions countries like Lesotho have seen their textiles and clothing sectors growing to the extent that they are now one of the biggest manufacturers on the continent both in fabric and garments.”

October said Mauritius on the other hand has taken advantage of the AGOA and EU Trade Agreements but their focus on the African Markets through the SADC and COMESA Protocols has paid off well for their clothing sector especially their knitted garments.

“Their exports into SACU have grown substantially in the last five years whilst targeting South Africa as their main African destination,” he added.

He further highlighted that intra-trade among African countries is also important as the industry has a growth potential.

“These sectors are labor intensive and have the potential to create large employment especially in the garment manufacturing sector where the investment is low but the job creation is enormous.

“The industry has the biggest advantage that the raw materials like fibres, skins and hides are readily available in the African Countries and it make business sense to beneficiate these raw materials instead of exporting jobs by selling these resources to countries out of Africa,” he said.

October also said South Africa has opened its markets to Africa through the different protocols where rules of origin are respected and the manufacturing sectors of those countries are developed.

However, October stressed that Pretoria does not support traders who specialise in trans-shipments and destroying the countries’ manufacturing base. - Xinhua