Cape Town - The clothing industry will have to innovate and raise productivity to survive the rocky world economy, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies
said on Tuesday.
"We can't afford to let manufacturing be the major 'payer' in terms of any new phase of the crisis," Davies told Sapa after speaking at the Clothing Bargaining Council's annual general meeting in Cape Town.
"The lesson from clothing industry is the way you get through this is you continue to innovate and raise productivity."
Davies told the council that a wage agreement between textile industry employers and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union for 30% lower wages for new employees was "a challenging new concept".
He said the government would be designating procurement to the industry on December 7, which would help its growth prospects.
The clothing industry, which shed thousands of jobs after having its profits hit by cheap imports, had "stabilised" and was making progress, he said.
"If you look at the production figures, there has been stabilisation in the industry."
The government had changed the structure of its support programmes and had provided a production incentive by granting credit against the amount of value a firm added to the economy.
It had also taken steps to improve protection to the industry and had recorded a number of useful victories against illegal imports, Davies said.