African Fashion: South African clothing retailers are reducing their reliance on Chinese imports.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Major retail chains across the country are increasingly labeling clothes with the image of the South African flag. This is an initiative to support the domestic textile and apparel industry.

About 60% of the textiles sold by South African merchants are imported, according to the government, and China accounts for the majority of these imports.

Retailers who have approved the government’s master plan to support local small businesses claim benefits beyond just job development.

Hazel Pillay, general manager of retailer Pick & Pay Clothing, said: .

Pick n Pay Clothing, along with Woolworth’s, Mr. Price and Truworth’s, are among the merchants that are increasing their supply of locally-based merchandise from 28% in 2019 to 40% today. This shift is now gaining momentum following the global trade disruptions brought on by the coronavirus epidemic and record unemployment.

A young designer named Katekani Moreku, who was brought in to help with the project, said: We believe it will have a major impact on increasing the number of jobs for all generations in this era of very high unemployment.

Moreku estimates that in 2020, the partnership with Pick n Pay will create about 1,000 jobs across manufacturing and digital marketing sectors.

The South African government’s goal is to create 121,000 new textile jobs by 2030, which is what it wants to achieve.

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However, merchants warn that spending on entrepreneurial assistance and skills training, such as Pick n Pay’s Pillay, will be required.

“Yes, before the 2000s, talent was easy to come by,” added Pillay. “and [manufacturing] moved to China, almost no investment in machinery and human resource development. However, looking at the state of the local economy 10 years from now, I believe that some of these local products are making a comeback.

Growth is needed as retailers want to source 60% of all textiles locally in the next five years.

However, analysts warn that simply setting quotas and goals will not be enough to revive your business.
According to Dawie Roodt, chief economist at financial services firm Efficient Group, “Governments need to become more efficient if they want to increase investment in textiles and promote localization of textiles and other industries. For example, , make sure your infrastructure is working properly, your investment in South Africa is safe, and more.

Local manufacturers are unable to produce and deliver their products due to frequent power outages and deteriorating rails.

In addition, there are real-world obstacles to reducing the $3 billion trade deficit between China and South Africa.

“Remember they have economies of scale,” added Roodt. “South Africa is a small country compared to China, so I don’t think we can compete very well.

But for aspiring designers, even modest improvements in local economies offer hope for the future.

Content provided: VOA & NFH

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