South Africa must up competitiveness


7 July 2015

The government and the manufacturing sector should raise South Africa’s competitiveness, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Speaking at the opening of the permanent exhibition site of the South Africa Technical Textile Cluster (SATTC) in Irene, Pretoria, yesterday, Davies said he was glad that the government supported the clothing and textile industry.

The SATTC focuses on the military, police, fire fighting, navy, and camping sectors. The site showcases the impact that government support has on the cluster programme. The cluster comprises five groups, namely: Canvas and Tent, Parachute Systems, Stepahead Military Headwear, Gelvenor Textiles, and Fields Wear.

Davies said that his department had established this cluster and others to ensure that members worked together in order to promote the sectors.

The government and manufacturers needed to raise South Africa’s competitiveness and to appreciate the role that government support programmes could play in encouraging the manufacturing sectors to embark on a journey to becoming more export competitive.

The previous incentive programmes based on the duty credit certificates were not working, he added, hence the department had adopted a different strategy with the Competitiveness Improvement Programme.

According to Davies, the SATTC could benefit from the government in different ways.

“First of all we have this tool of localisation which is called designation. All clothing and textile products which are procured by public entities in South Africa should come from local manufacturers using local raw materials. There also is a need for a deeper conversation with the [Department of Trade and Industry] on market access opportunities with some of the countries on the continent.

“We do have foreign economic representatives on the continent that would be of great assistance with regards to market penetration,” Davies said.

Barend Pretorius of Parachute Systems said that the cluster had helped his company with co-ordination and marketing its products.

“Working on the cluster configuration is so much easier to move out into the world marketing not only our product but also other members’ products. We have agreed that we will market the products of other sector members when we go out of the country,” said Pretorius.

The SATTC has also enhanced employment in the sector, thanks to the government’s interventions.

Other than the SATTC, there are three other clusters in the textile and clothing sector on which the government is also spending money to promote and enhance the competitiveness of the sector. These clusters are: National Fashion Council, Mohair Cluster, and the South African Sustainable Textiles and Apparel Cluster.