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Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Update: SA quotas on Chinese clothing and textiles: has there been sufficient economic justification?

Trade Briefs

Update: SA quotas on Chinese clothing and textiles: has there been sufficient economic justification?

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In late 2006 South Africa unilaterally imposed quotas on the importation of selected clothing lines from China. Implementation was delayed until 1 January 2007. The key motivation for these quotas has been the claimed job losses in the industry. Quotas in these categories are supposed to give South African Clothing and Textile firms space to operate with the aim of improving competitiveness in domestic and export markets in the long run.

This policy decision by South Africa has been questioned by industry and stakeholders. In some of the discussions held by tralac, questions raised include:

  • Does the South African Clothing and Textile industry have what it takes to be competitive internationally or even locally for that matter?

  • Will the quotas make any difference to the fate of those employed in the local industry or should they start looking elsewhere for employment?

  • Can South Africa’s new Industrial Policy (released recently and available on South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry website) address the challenges faced by the clothing and textile industry?

  • How do the Chinese quotas affect the other members of the Southern African Customs Union?

  • How are the Chinese quotas being implemented and how is implementation being monitored (keeping in mind, for example, that imports could be coming through the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia)?

The objective of this Trade Brief is to update the earlier report on “South African quotas on Chinese clothing and textiles” prepared by tralac and released in September 2007. By monitoring on a quarterly basis, we examine the changes in the selected quota imports and make preliminary assessments as to whether they may be indicating that they are meeting their specific goal of slowing the trade flows of clothing imports from China.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

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