South Africa's garment and textile industry is gaining stability. The sector has stemmed job losses by 66 per cent between 2010 and 2013. The textile sector has achieved a lot in saving jobs due to decisive government support and trade unions’ campaigns to save jobs. The government’s incentives and subsidies have helped. The Clothing and Textile Competitiveness Improvement Program has dramatically assisted clothing and textile firms to upgrade plant and equipment and technology.
However, cheap textile imports still plague the sector. More than one third of all fabrics imported into South Africa are cleared free of duty either under free trade agreements or by way of the duty free rebate system. While the nominal duty on fabrics is 22 per cent, the average duty paid on fabric imports into South Africa is 10.8 per cent.
The government has introduced a system of reference pricing to stop dumping. And last month Parliament reformed South Africa's Customs Control Act to increase controls on illegal imports. The South African Revenue Service has declared the garment and textile industry a strategic sector, which means imports will come under special scrutiny, to root out smuggling and piracy. South Africa’s main export is raw wool fiber and its key export markets are: China and Italy.