CLOTHING: Used Clothes Destroy Jobs
Recent Western Cape Business News
SECOND hand clothing collected in Europe for “the needy” is being used to undermine the local clothing industry and destroy jobs, says the Apparel Manufacturers of South Africa.
“We have no objection to genuine welfare work where used clothing is given to the poor by recognised charities,” says Johann Baard, director of AMSA, “but we draw the line when goods donated for welfare purposes are being used to provide cheap stock for unscrupulous traders.”
He said that whilst the garments were described as second-hand when they came through customs it was not uncommon for the bales to be mixed with brand new garments. “It is a dishonest trade and it is often used as cover for illegal and duty-free imports of dumped new clothing,” Mr Baard said.
He welcomed the recent raid by the South African Revenue Services on a storage facility in Johannesburg which supplied the De Villiers Street second-hand clothing street market. Tons of clothing were confiscated in the raid.
AMSA would give evidence in court when those responsible for the illegal imports were prosecuted. The evidence would outline the damage done to the clothing industry and the bid to preserve jobs.
“Our members are quite prepared to compete with legitimate imports both in terms of price and quality, but we cannot allow the industry to be undermined by unscrupulous importers and traders who do not have the long-term interests of the industry and its workers at heart,” Mr Baard said.
“During my travels in Africa over the past 18 months it has become abundantly clear that the second hand clothing trade is the single biggest obstacle in the way of many African countries getting their domestic clothing manufacturing sector out of the starting blocks. It has a massive destructive impact on industrialisation, job creation and skills development.”
He said that a leading UK clothing retailer had launched a so-called “social responsibility campaign” and placed boxes in their stores for customers to donate second hand clothing under the guise of “welfare to the needy”.
This removed second-hand clothing from the local market but when it was exported to Africa the effect was to trap societies into a web of dependence and hand outs. “It does not skill them and develop a manufacturing infrastructure.”
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