Government is committed to minimising the impact of COVID-19 on the clothing and textile industry.

The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Fikile Majola, made the undertaking at a briefing of Parliament’s Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour.

Briefing the committee on Tuesday, Majola said greater effort has been directed to the localisation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to boost the retail clothing, textile, footwear and leather (R-CTFL) industry, in light of the devastating effects of the pandemic.

“Government is committed to reviving the sector, as it focuses on rebuilding manufacturing and to enable it to expand its capacity. We are working towards significantly reducing illegal imports to eliminate unfair competition against local retailers and manufacturers,” said Majola in his briefing on progress made in the implementation of the industry’s Master Plan.

Majola said the sector is one of the key industries identified as critical in driving the economy of the country.

The R-CTFL value chain is a major contributor to the South African economy, with CTFL retail playing a large role in the manufacturing portion of the value chain.

The value chain’s total gross domestic product contribution is R74 billion.

The R-CTFL Master Plan was signed in November 2019 with seven commitments. These included growing the local market, driving local sourcing, ending illegal imports and value chain transformation.

During this period of the pandemic, specific focus has been placed on intensifying support for products such as surgical and consumer masks, respirators, medical textiles, leather and footwear products, and gloves.

The support given includes ensuring adherence to procurement regulations and issuing of timely orders, matching of demand and supply, sourcing and ensuring availability of raw material in South Africa.

National Treasury, in support of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, has called on all compliant, particularly local suppliers providing PPE commodities, to direct their offers to the Project Management Office (PMO), which has been set up for this purpose.

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