Local content quota on textile contracts on the cards

Cabinet will soon be presented with proposals for a local content quota on clothing and textile contracts to help revive the faltering local industry, according to Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies.

“We are about to take proposals to Cabinet,” Davies told the delegates at the annual conference of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) in Cape Town today.

Davies said the idea, which has been extensively discussed within Nedlac, was to force all government departments procuring uniforms or other textile industry goods to have a set percentage of local manufacturing input.

“With all levels of government, we want to be able to say the following clause applies,” he said to applause.

This would, for example, apply to uniforms for police officers, prison wardens and healthcare workers.

“We want to make sure that they procure them from locally designated manufacturers.”

If approved by Cabinet, this would form part of the government’s revised industrial policy action plan, the minister added.

He added, however, that the state’s plans to protect the textile industry and save jobs were not enough in themselves, but needed to be accompanied by greater productivity.

“Where things are not working, the industry needs the courage to renew.”

Davies said government had bucked an international trend to lower tariffs by charging the World Trade Organisation maximum of 45% of imported textile and clothing goods, and taken extensive pains to prevent customs fraud.

“We say, yes, we must defend the local manufacturing industry, but we cannot just defend it with customs tariffs. We must put other things in place.” 

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