Posted: August 17, 2023
The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina says the footwear and leather industry is key to the economy and can create much-needed jobs. Gina was speaking during a business-to-business networking event at the Coastlands Hotel, Durban last night. The event was hosted by the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council (SAFLEC) and the eThekwini Municipality Footwear and Leather Cluster.
The event was attended by manufacturers in the footwear, handbag and leather goods industry, as well as representatives of provincial and national government, partner stakeholders, and retailers.
According to Gina, during COVID-19 pandemic, the industry experienced significant profit decline and this resulted in job losses from 10 622 to 8 831 workers. But she said the sector has demonstrated a strong resiliency despite these economic shocks.
“Government believes that the industry will turn the corner and get back to the pre-COVID profitability and growth. We will continue to support this industry through incentives and seeing to it that the Retail–Clothing Textile Footwear Leather Master Plan 2030 targets are achieved,” said Gina.
“This industry is one of those that are labour intensive. And because of that, when it grows it creates jobs. For government, the biggest pressure we have is to create more jobs as fast as we can to solve social problems, including youth unemployment. It is for this reason that we want more Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and starter-ups emerging within this sector and creating jobs,” expressed Gina.
She urged the industry to take up opportunities that are emerging in the continent through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement which seeks to improve intra-Africa trade. She said becoming a continental player is critical for South African companies.
“Undoubtedly, a market of 1.3 billion population, with a combined Gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 billion cannot be overlooked,” said Gina.
Gina also pointed out that South Africans are known to consume what they do not produce and it was high time the status quo changed.
“We need to start wearing and eating proudly South African products and export more of these quality South African brands which will translate into more revenue,” said Gina.
The South African Footwear and Leather Export Council is the recognised body representing and promoting the South African footwear, leather, handbags, belts and allied industries in international markets.
Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
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Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)