Textile Federation (Texfed). The South African textile environment is currently facing extremely difficult trading conditions. Employment in the industry has declined from 70 500 in 2003 to just below 50 500 in 2006. In addition a number of textile mills have recently closed and have been forced to retench staff.
Imports are at an all time high. Imports of yarns have increased from 77 000 tons in 2001 to 99 000 tons in 2006 an increase of 29% while imports of fabrics have remained relatively constant with 94 900 tons in 2001 and 95 300 tons in 2006. Much larger increases were recorded by imports of made up textiles which have increased from 4 900 tons in 2001 to 28 700 tons in 2006 an increase of nearly 500% and imports of clothing which increased from 139 million items in 2001 to 567 million items in 2006 an increase of over 300%.
Historically textile and clothing imports into South Africa originated from a wide range of countries chief amongst which were Taiwan, South Korea and Europe. However since 2001 imports have increasingly been sourced in the main from China. In the case of clothing imports, 89% currently originates from China, 3% from India and the remaining 8% from the rest of the world while 60% of all made up textiles (blankets, bed sheets, towels and curtains) originate from China.
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